The loneliness didn’t fully hit me until I started baking again today.
Lots of folks on social media/in general are baking nowadays (as further evidenced by the lack of flour at the markets). It makes sense, honestly. Baking is comforting, it’s warm, sometimes sweet, rich, or just so carb-y you want to keep going back for more. It’s the kind of food that turns your tummy into a soft pillow you just want to rest your hands on in satisfaction, preferably as a precursor to a nap.
But baking–at least for me–is something that’s shared.
I used to bake pretty regularly back in Boston. This was partially due to my living situation at the time, but also having a full sized oven plus a ready group of friends/fellow grad students/co-workers who I could gift some of my goods to played a rather sizable role. The last time I really baked here was when I made my (3 layered…yeah) carrot cake for my birthday back in November. Even then, though, I had an apartment full of people ready to dig into that cake with me.
Now? The first thing I thought of when I pulled my cornbread out of the oven was ‘How the fuck am I supposed to eat this by myself?’
It’s strange for me to realize how much more pragmatic my line of thinking has become lately in light of all this. As much as I want to use this time to try out a new cake recipe or revisit a favorite cookie, I would also have to be the person consuming all that afterwords. And the more I thought about it, the more I couldn’t shake the thought that I didn’t want to be the only person eating those things.
It didn’t help today that I accidentally knocked a bit more baking soda into my batter than the recipe called for–but I wasn’t going to be throwing any of it out, of course–as well as slightly overfilled my skillet, causing some batter to bubble out during baking. I was stressed, for lack of a better word.
But baking isn’t supposed to be stressful, right?
And so when I took that pan out of the oven, and even after I tasted the cornbread and found it still tasted perfectly fine, the only thing I felt towards it was frustration.
Yes, it was partially because I was disappointed in my little blunders, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that part of me was also disappointed that I didn’t have someone physically in the room with me to laugh about this with. It’s one thing to post about all this on Instagram after the fact; it’s quite another thing when someone else is there to react with you in real-time, and possibly help turn your mood when you goof up a bit. And to be honest, with the way things are going, that’s what I am genuinely terrified about: being alone for so long that the possibility for shared physical presence–not to mention intimacy–with someone else becomes its own kind of fantasy. Unattainable.
I ended up cutting the cornbread up into smaller pieces and storing them in a Tupperware in my fridge. I’ll have one for breakfast with some yogurt tomorrow. And the next day, and so on until it’s all done. Moderation is key for me. I am already terrified of the ramifications of this extended alone time; I don’t need to add any fears about what all this comparative inactivity will do to my own body image to the mix.