What I Ate For Two Weeks Straight: Banana Cake
Hey. I am coming off a bit of a bender. A cake bender, to be exact. For the last two weeks in this house, we have had a cake pan on the counter, filled with banana cake. We made a cake one week, ate it, felt sad about it being gone, so we made another one. Some days I felt more of an obligation than a desire to eat the cake. But it was there, and it was cake, so I ate. You’d think that standing here now, I might want a little break from cake — maybe to focus on other things like gummy bears and chocolate and ice cream. But no. In fact, I am prepping for another cake right around the corner. My birthday is in five days. I considered asking for a double chocolate cake, a pineapple-upside-down cake, or a dirt cake — but my heart wants what it wants and what it wants is an angel food cake with boxed Betty Crocker Home Style Fluffy White Frosting. And while I was super diligent in proper cake-eating ratios with the banana cake, I do not plan on practicing moderation with my birthday cake. If I arrange things intelligently, and keep my other meals small, I should be able to take the cake down in under twelve hours. Angel food is light. Airy. It practically floats.
The banana cake was special to me. Everything I eat is really some kind of special, since I treat every moment of ingestion as something precious — but that cake had been calling my name for an incredibly long time. And I know this might seem a little disturbing, but we have had six frozen bananas, in our freezer(s) [freezers bc we have moved multiple times during the time period between their initial freezing and the cake making] — for YEARS. I’m going to guess about three.
I tasted the cake for during an early visit to Nic’s family’s house after meeting him and was blown away. We all like banana bread, right? Even if you don’t like bananas, the odds are that you like banana bread. Great things happen when flour and sugar and eggs come together.
But banana cake is even better than banana bread. It’s like the best banana bread you’ve every had topped with a perfect, thick layer of sweet fat — aka cream cheese frosting. It’s heaven.
I regarded the cake much like corn: I considered it to be an Iowan crop. It was there that I first had it, and there that I thought it would remain. I longed for it on every visit, hoping to coordinate our arrival to Nic’s family home with some occasion that would merit a cake.
But, one day I realized: the cake doesn’t reside in Iowa. I am allowed to create things I want and to recreate things I have come across — no matter where I am. Which is what I realized for a half a second a couple of years ago when we froze the bananas. A flash of understanding. A jolt of hope. Things that I want can be mine. Not only can they — but I am the one with the power to make that so.
What a huge thing to know. What an easy thing to lose sight of, and what a huge thing to know.
The other day I saw someone post a question. They wanted the readers of the post to reply with the most important lesson they’ve learned thus far in life. I did not hit reply and type anything, but I heard the answer fly out of my mouth. Every part of life is going to be hard. Even the good parts. Prepare yourself.
Yikes! That sucks. I mean, that sounds hopeless, except that I acknowledged that there are good parts. There are really good parts. But — I stand with my kneejerk assessment — it’s all hard.
Today, for many hours, I could not stop crying. I could not shake the thought that there is no reason for my existence. I also could not shake my annoyance. At myself. Why am I still looking for the reason I am allowed to be here on the earth? Why does my existence continue to plague me?
Anyway. After emptying the only box of tissues we had, I was unable to cry further because I would never use a paper towel on my delicate face skin, and toilet paper falls apart too easily when hit with tears. I decided I had to do something.
So I made a list of the three tasks I intended to get done today, no matter what. It’s after 9pm and I can tell you for sure that I’m only going to complete two of them. But still. Two out of three ain’t bad.
Then I texted two people who always let me be honest about my self-loathing, and who always come back with good mix of ‘go ahead and feel it, girl’ and ‘let’s try to get you out of this.’
By the time the late afternoon sun was making its way through our kitchen window, I had silenced the meanest voices in my head, and was talking myself through tasks like a sweet, small child. Put on your chapstick, send another email, heat up your coffee, tell Nic thank you [for just, like, everything kind he’s been and done since the very moment you met him], breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, and think about something wonderful.
I cut up an orange and an apple, layered them on top of each other, and ate a bright bowl of cubed fruit.
I took a walk. I never let myself walk alone [we have a dog! she should always go along!] but I let myself manage only my own body out there, and it felt good.
For as long as I’ve been cognizant, the idea of punishing myself sounds better than forgiving myself. I understand punishment, and what it seeks to do. Hold me accountable, attempt to create something new. Make me a new person — one that is better than this current version.
I think what I was caught up in today was grief. There are so many iterations of life that I have either already lost, or that I’m pretty sure will not be a part of my path, at this point. My life is here. And it is lovely. But it is also hard. All of our lives are.
I am proud of so little about me. I hate to say that but it’s true. I have accomplished like 1/100th of what I wanted to.
But I figured out how to make banana cake on my own. And how to take a walk alone. And I am proud that I am honest seven hundred percent of the time. I lie to no one. I am open about everything. I am so terrified of life in the dark that I push my truth into the light. Even when it’s ugly. Even when it stings.
So. I’m going to head to bed. Wake up early, I hope. To read or write or just sit in the silence. And prep my stomach for the angel food cake. Because whether or not I’m in acceptance of my existence, I exist. Happy birthday to me.