An Open Letter to the Woman I Was, Leaving Nashville:
You will find yourself omitting coffee early this morning to beat traffic. You will think it is a smart idea to wait until you are outside the city. It is not.
Five hours later, you will finally pass a Starbucks. You will go in, and you will order Blonde Roast, and they will give you Pike. You will never forget the guilty look on the barista’s face when you say before paying that you want your employee discount. You will also never forget that first taste of…fucking Pike.
You will eat yogurt covered raisins when you are hungry. You will be forced to listen to the same few songs, over and over, because your phone is acting funny. You will miss the mountains, years later, and you will always wonder how everyone there learned they needed to put up signs indicating random, tumbling rocks. You will feel the change when the weather becomes just a little bit chillier.
You will keep waiting on the drive for the tears you wanted to cry but did not have time for because you were tired and you just needed to keep going. They do not come. Instead, over the next few years, they will squeak out just a little every day before there comes a time that you realize they have not visited lately. Spoiler alert: this is the moment that they return, because grief is not linear, but rather, it is a button whose pressing changes and becomes perhaps less trigger-able, though nonetheless responsive, over time.
The tears will make their first appearance when you meet the only person who knows in Chicago on the way. You will be standing in front of a Monet, and the soft pink-kissed-yellow makes you long for the time that has now passed. When you headed in this direction, you were not quite certain that you would ever find that space again. The one where you are loved like the softest place on earth. You are right to wonder.
It will hit you the second you sit down in the passenger seat of your own car. The depression. It is not the first time you have felt it, but it is the first time you have recognized it. Old friend.
For this leg of the trip, you will have company to finish the drive home again. It helps, I guess, in some ways. But the depression never goes. It will not leave you for the next few years, as you haul ass to rebuild your life again in Minneapolis without telling anyone what you experienced, what you have carried.
It will be hard. And nobody is guaranteed a damn thing. But there will come a time when you realize that you need to see that you deserve it, even-and, perhaps, especially-if there is nobody else to tell you so.
You do not need to be perfect to receive it. Just decide. Decide right now. Like you did back then, driving away. Because even though there was a tough road ahead you knew that you had to count on there being something better. And I appreciate that. I am looking back and feeling for you, because I know how that was and how hard it has been.
I want to be more like you, back then. Back then, you knew what it should be like, and that you deserved it, and you did all that you could to make it happen, even if it meant braving the void. And back then, you never would have listened to anyone who made that voice a little quieter. You would have breathed through it, because you did, because you knew there had to be something greater. Greater than anything that wanted to silence your voice.
And maybe it doesn’t look the way everybody says love should. It’s just that some things don’t match up with what we have come to know = pink chocolate, cake like a brownie, and where is the fucking frosting, but
I want you to take a second and enjoy the weird and unlike-any-other and pretty wonderful thing you made out of what you had.
One Year: *Oops* Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies
Two Years: Hello Darlings
Three Years: Cilantro Lime Edamame Succotash
Four Years: Toasted Marshmallow Crispy Treats
Five Years: Cocoa Brownies, Revisited
Six Years: The Best Marshmallow Crispy Treats You Will Ever Encounter
Ruby Chocolate Cloud Cake
Adapted from Food52
11 tbsp unsalted butter
5oz ruby chocolate wafers
1oz very good quality white chocolate (chopped or in chip form)
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
zest of one lemon
grated white chocolate, for decoration
Preheat your oven to 350° F. Line a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment, grease it, and dust the inside with sugar, tapping out any excess. Melt the butter in a saucepan (or in a heatproof bowl in the microwave). Once melted, add both types of chocolate and stir until melted and smooth. Let cool slightly. Beat the eggs and sugar together until VERY light and fluffy, at least 7 minutes in a stand or electric mixer. Fold in the vanilla extract, then the melted butter/chocolate mixture. Add the flour and salt and lemon zest (if using) and fold very gently into the batter until just combined—do not overmix. You don’t want to deflate the batter. Pour the batter into your pan and bake for about 20-25 minutes. The cake will look just barely set but take it out! You want it slightly underdone. Let the cake cool fully before slicing. Grate more white chocolate on top to decorate, then serve.