I spent 7 hours alone in my apartment. I washed my sheets. I watched a four hour lecture on torts. I made an elaborate lunch. I looked at 72 cookie recipes.
I day-dreamed about what it felt like in the sunshine.
When I finally made it out in public I felt quiet and disoriented. It felt like emerging from a three month hibernation.
I wandered around Wholefoods aimlessly for twenty minutes. I was sweaty, and hungry and reluctant to go home. I was barely conscious, staring at gluten-free cookie mixes when a young woman interrupted my zone-out.
“Do you bake?”
I froze. I couldn’t remember. I’d been out of body and not present since early this morning. It took at least thirty seconds to feel my feet, breathe in, and respond, “YES!”
I looked up and saw a young woman with a bright smile. She was carrying a gluten-free yellow cake mix box and was clearly on a mission. She needed to know how to make Funfetti cupcakes. She had inadvertently stumbled upon an unofficial expert. I’ve probably made four thousand Funfetti cupcakes in my lifetime. Maybe more.
Without hesitation, she told me the whole plan. There’s a boy. It’s his birthday. He eats healthy and “likes confetti.” Immediately I can tell she wants to marry the guy. Later she admits, “I obviously have a crush.”
I give her the five-minute rundown on the art of rainbow sprinkles. I hit the finer points of brand preference and color balance. I recommended she add a little at a time, get an even distribution, then repeat the process until she looks down and thinks, “yes. it’s perfect.” Then, in an unexpected moment of complete, twenty-eight year old woman honesty, I laid it down for her.
“Girl. Lemme tell you. I spent years trying to get boys attention by being pretty and skinny and giggly and well dressed. The truth is, none of it ever worked even close to as well as giving them food I made with enthusiasm and love. You’re on the right track. Keep up the good work.”
She grabbed my arm and screeched with delight. “I’m going to top them with fondant and make them extra pretty. I think he’s going to love it!”
We shared a few more moments of uncensored womanhood before I wished her good luck and proceeded purposefully to the check out line. I loaded two packs of strawberries and a bag of pretzels on to the conveyer belt, paused and felt a warmth of love come over me. I felt deep gratitude for human connection. For sharing myself. For connecting to another woman in a uniquely feminine space.
Not so many years ago I would have never connected with anyone in the baking aisle. If another woman approached me she would have been met immediately and abruptly with sarcasm and dismissal. I would have never encouraged anyone to bake their way into a man’s heart.
Today I feel grateful for growth, perspective and my love for cooking. I feel grateful for that young woman’s wide open heart and determined spirit. I feel grateful for Funfetti cupcakes and all the boys who have ignored my flirtation, but eaten what I’ve baked.