Megan is in Slovakia. Every summer for the past several years she has gone on mission trips to teach English to children at summer camps in other countries. We have been to Romania together twice and she has been to Russia several times. This summer she traveled with a different group to Slovakia. She doesn’t have an internet connection so I must be content with only being able to text her once a day. I have to say, though, that I am thankful for even texting. When we went on our first mission trip several years ago we weren’t even able to do that much to stay in touch with our family.
We tried to keep the cake schedule light once we knew the dates that Megan was going to be away. There were two that had been scheduled for a couple of months and another one that got thrown into the mix at the last minute because we just couldn’t say no. As much as we tried, there are some requests that you just can’t say no to.
We sat down to have our weekly cake meeting and there was so much planning to do that it took several sessions to accomplish it all. Since Megan and I both get contacted about cakes, it is the responsibility of whichever one of us gets contacted to do the follow up for scheduling and details. We always consult each other before anything is finalized and added to the cake schedule. We don’t have a Mary Alice like Duff does, although Megan seems to wear the Mary Alice hat much more often than I do. She has over 1,000 friends on Facebook, whereas I have less than 200. Since most of our contacts come from Facebook, you can see why she would be contacted more often than I am.
Responses in, details ironed out, planning pictures drawn, we sat down to have a day of gumpaste work to do the components that we would need for the cakes that were scheduled while Megan was away. What a trooper!! She had details to take care of for her trip but she was concerned about the amount of work that I would have to do without her. Usually, we work side by side to do gumpaste components. I do all the work on people and shaping things and Megan does a lot of the work on props and detailing. I finished the things that I had to do and moved on to do some housework and Megan continued to work on the projects that she had started. She spent two whole days working right up until the night before her trip to finish so that I would have what I needed while she was gone. I still have another cake, requiring quite a few components that I will have to do on my own, but the work that we did before she left makes my life much easier while she is gone.
I must interject here that Megan and I have discovered that the old addage, “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” is, indeed, true. Ever since Megan was a little girl and she started going to camp in the summertime, we realized that being apart now and then is good for us. I know that life gets intense here sometimes. Megan still lives at home as so many young adults are forced to do in this horrible economy. She lost her job a couple of years ago and, even though she has a full-time job with a local school district, it still doesn’t pay enough for her to be able to support herself. She will leave when the time is right but, for now, we’re all so thankful that she loves being here and we love having her. As I said, we have learned, however, that a break from each other always makes us appreciate each other and we come back together refreshed and renewed. I know that she was looking forward to having a break from the stress of doing cakes for a few weeks and I was happy knowing that she was going to be able to pursue her first love, teaching.
As amazing as Megan is with doing cakes, she is an even more amazing teacher. I apologize. Bragging was never allowed in my house but I can’t help but be proud of the teacher that Megan has become. She wanted to be a teacher from the time that she was in second grade and she followed that passion all the way through to getting a Master’s in School Administration. I’ve seen her in a classroom of third graders. She has that incredible gift of being a disciplinarian as well as a loving friend to her students. Her kids love her. It also doesn’t hurt that she drives a bright, red volkswagon beetle and wears funny hats for all kinds of special occasions in her classroom.
But it’s lonely here in cakeland. Don’t get me wrong. I have projects to do…reading for my counseling work, laundry, cleaning…..you get the picture. I have plenty to do that has nothing to do with cakes which keeps me busy and I still have the rest of the family to keep me company, but when I start to work on a cake, I feel like my right arm is missing.
There is no one chattering at the kitchen table with a movie running in the computer by her side. No one flinging powdered sugar all over the counter while mixing up a batch of buttercream. I don’t think that I have ever mentioned what a messy worker Megan is, which seems to be totally opposite from our personalities. Megan, the concrete thinker, is a cake tornado that blows through the kitchen leaving a trail of powdered sugar, gumpaste bits, and tools caked with cornstarch. I, on the other hand, the visionary, runs around with a clean, wet dishcloth, wiping down counters with disinfectant and stopping to scrub the floor if anything gets dropped on it. I’ve learned to deal with her messy-ness, knowing that the most beautiful, amazing creations will come from the mess.
It was so weird to deliver a cake without her last week. Actually, I constructed and delivered two cakes while she’s been gone, with two more to go before she gets back. There was no one there to go over the checklist with. I was so worried that I was going to forget something. While we each take on different tasks when making cakes, going over the checklist, making sure that we have the tools that we need to construct the cake, and packing up all the cake components is something that we do together. As it turned out, I did forget the bamboo skewers for the pirate’s chest, however, I had toothpicks in the toolkit that I keep in there all the time and they worked just as well to secure the chest to the cake.
My husband drove for one of the deliveries, so, although I had someone in the car with me, there was no one there to chatter about the upcoming delivery. Usually, once Megan and I get in the car, we chatter about the cake. We chatter about whether we know where we’re going. We chatter about putting the cake together. We chatter about whether the client will like it. We even chatter about how far we will have to carry the cake. You get the picture.
When we come home from a delivery, I usually have cake tools to put away and a final clean up in the kitchen while Megan sits at the kitchen table and posts the pictures. We’ve been told over and over how much people enjoy looking at the pictures so we try to be faithful about putting pictures up as soon as we get home from a delivery. Not only did I have to put the pictures up, I even forgot the camera for one of the deliveries. Megan would have killed me if I had not taken pictures of a cake. In the beginning when we first started doing cakes, I took all the pictures. As Megan became more proficient at photographing food, she took on the role of cake photographer. It’s her job to take the camera along. I don’t even think about it anymore. Fortunately, the cake that almost didn’t get photographed was at a baby shower and one of the women who was giving the shower allowed us to take pictures with her camera. She was extremely thoughtful, getting the pictures to me the very next day.
As I am sitting here writing this post, the house is quiet. My youngest daughter and husband are both at work. It doesn’t happen very often that my house is this quiet. While I must admit that there are times when I desperately need a moment of quiet solitude, I wouldn’t trade the busy-ness of my home because it means that the people that I love are here. There are times when everyone is here, my married daughter, Bethie, son-in-law, Jeremy, and grandson, Thatcher, Megan, who is my oldest daughter, my youngest daughter, Gracie, and my husband, Rick. The kitchen is humming, the dogs are barking, the phone is ringing, and it feels like complete bedlam, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
So I’m missing my cake partner. Even though we still disagree at times and even still have times when we need to walk away from the disagreement that we are having over a cake detail, I wouldn’t trade my relationship with Megan for anything in the world. We started this journey together and, even though we could both do cakes without the other person, I wouldn’t want to.
For now, the conditions are right with Megan living at home, to continue to do cakes. There may come a time when, for whatever reason, we won’t do cakes anymore. That will be a sad day for both of us and we will cross that bridge if we ever come to it but I know one thing for sure. Happily Ever After Cakes is a team and I am lost without my Megan.
Be safe, sweetie, have a wonderful time teaching sweet Slovakian children, but come home soon. Your crazy cake partner misses you.