I was at work today, getting all frustrated by these manual tasks I had to do in this new application we’re leveraging at work to document all our tasks. What a great birthday, I thought in my head. This application really sucks.
And then my colleague pulls me aside and tells me I need to go to the kitchen ASAP. Hmmm, do I get CAKE?!
Our office manager organized a birthday surprise for me and had everyone (who actually showed up to the office, that is, since it was snowing today) sing me “Happy Birthday,” and also made me a cake — it was a two-layer red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. It looked so professionally done that I honestly thought she bought it and was joking, but apparently she wasn’t.
“No one has ever made me a cake before!” I exclaimed. I was truly in shock and so overwhelmed to know she had actually spent the time to bake and decorate this cake just for my birthday. “Actually, someone did bake me a cake once… it was when I was five. But that was a long time ago!”
And then the memory hit me — the first time I could actually remember my mother getting jealous. My aunt, who lived upstairs from us, always used to bake with me. She’s the reason I got into baking and ultimately cooking. She said we were going to bake my birthday cake together, so we actually baked a cake together and decorated it, complete with vanilla frosting and rainbow-confetti dot sprinkles. I was so excited to have this as my birthday cake.
My mom crushed it by telling me she’d already bought me a cake and that would be the cake I’d pose with for my birthday photos. I told her I didn’t want that cake, that I wanted the cake I had made with my aunt. My mom refused and said her cake was the cake we’d put the candles on. I was not happy, but I didn’t say anything. At the time, I didn’t realize it was jealousy. But looking back, it was very clear that was what this was about.
If you were to look at the photos from my fifth birthday, you can see that the cake I made is off to the side, without any candles. The candles are on the chocolate cake my mom bought me… which I actually didn’t like because it had some weird cherry flavoring that was too strong for my five-year-old taste buds.
That was the beginning of the jealousy and irrationality. I just didn’t know it yet then.
But anyway, isn’t it funny how these random memories get triggered from so long ago?