All the songs embedded here are some of The Beloved’s and my favorites. I hope you enjoy them.
Tomorrow is The Beloved’s birthday, and today I will bake for him. I will bake for him because I love him. For me, baking is love. It is my way of showing people that I care, my way of showing him that I care. The act of combining ingredients so the flavors and textures complement each other is a metaphor for my relationships with others. Although sometimes we might like to, none of us exists in a bubble, We affect those who we’re closest to, and they affect us. We seek out our tribe, our people. We find those who complement us and some who provide contrast, a refreshingly–or frustratingly–different way of approaching the world. And we need both. We need the complementary. The supportive, the comfortable. And we need the contrast: the challenge, the spice.
In baking, we need both the complementary and the contrasting. We need harmonious flavors, but a little bit of the unexpected is a welcome addition. The chemistry of many cakes is actually based on contrast. An acid plus a base give us bubbles to leaven.
The Beloved and I have known each other for over thirty years. We have been married for close to thirteen. In the in between time, we loved and lost and found each other. That happens. In all the years we were apart, I never forgot his birthday.
Twenty years ago tomorrow, I called him to wish him a Happy Birthday. We hadn’t spoken in quite some time, and we hadn’t seen each other in several years, so we made a plan for him to come up to visit over the Memorial Day weekend. I remember telling him I would leave the key for him since I would be going to the gym after work. When I drove up, he was standing in the screened doorway of my little crack house duplex wearing a white tank top, blue shorts, and his beautiful smile.
And once he showed up that Memorial Day weekend, he never left. Physically, he has left many times as his job took him out on the road. But emotionally, once he showed up twenty years ago, he stayed.
Today, I don’t want to talk about baking. I will be baking, so know that. What I want to talk about is love.
Although he can be very sweet, the Beloved is not the most romantic of men. But romance does not equal love. And this man loves me and shows me in so many ways.
He was with me all through my brother’s illness and eventual horrible death. I thank God every day that he was with me when I got the phone call from my dad telling me that Greg had leukemia. I shattered, and his strong arms were there to gather up the pieces and hold me together over the next two and a half years.
He was with me when I thought I was losing my mind. One moment I was fine, and the next, adrenaline was coursing through me. And it didn’t stop for over three years. I got up, went to work, talked to friends. I did it all while feeling like I was dying, going crazy, or both.
I went to doctor after doctor, and they were all intrigued, but none suggested I might be suffering from severe anxiety or panic attacks. My heart would constantly leap in my chest, and the cardiologist told me everything was fine.
I went to the emergency room with chest pains more than once, and those doctors always told me how intrigued they were by my case, but none offered a solution as they sent me home. More nights than I can count, I went to bed not knowing if I would wake up the next morning.
And for every day of those three years, even though he didn’t understand what was going on with me, he was there. It must have been awful for him to live with someone constantly on the edge, but he was there. He was always there.
He is the one who suggested I leave teaching and go to culinary school and supports me as I bake and teach for you guys on the blog.
He is the most patient man in the world.
He is my complement and my contrast. He supports. He encourages. Sometimes he grates. And he always loves. Me.
And for this I am grateful.