Thursday, October 11, 2012

Bread anyone?

I am happy today. How can I say that with such confidence? Because I have used an entire bag of flour this week --- that's how.

Once I began working full-time, my baking fell to the wayside. It was more than a matter of not having time for it. I lost all desire for it. It felt very separate from my busy, capable self and far removed from dress slacks and heels. Arriving home from work, my dinner plan usually involved something boxed or frozen. Can I be completely honest? It felt important to be so busy and I felt a sense of connection and normalcy bonding to other women preparing the same dinner fare.

I felt pride in working for a Vice President, walking through the doors to "the castle" each morning and sitting behind a big desk. While parts of that job were far from glamorous, other parts made me feel pretty darned special, irreplacable and downright important.

Baking is not glamorous. It is messy and involves long waits (an hour and twenty minutes for bread to rise the first time-- another twenty again after being formed into loaves.) You don't even have the benefit of the aroma of bread until nearly the end of the lengthy process. And then there are no preservatives in it, so you had better plan to either eat toast like a maniac for 2 days, or share it.

It is the sharing part that I love. Everyone loves the cinnamon roll lady. No one refuses Avanti bread from the bread machine. I know, I know, if I was a purist, there would be no true appliance involved in my bread making. But when someone has gone through something difficult, I often feel I need an excuse to see them, as though I am intruding upon their grief. Holding out the small mishapen loaf of bread, which never fails to be lopsided, is always my method.

The loaves I craft never look the same. I haven't formed two identical loaves of bread in 15 years of baking. It's ridiculous. There never fails to be small, sharp peaks, too brown at the ends. I never brush the loaf with butter or beaten egg.... I just bake it as is. As Greg would say, "It's Joy-made".

At thirty-five, I am beginning to accept who I am and embrace that person. I have a broken filter and fixate on small things, but that is okay. It's okay that I have left behind dress slacks for jeans-- "important people" will forget my name as time lapses and the rust spot on the van won't be getting smaller anytime soon. As I turn the dough over in my hand, I feel a connection to who I really am and won't apologize for the pleasure I take in small tasks, viewed as meaningless by so many. Why make bread? Go buy it at Wal-Mart for $1.50 a loaf.

But this is me. And it is enough.