I woke up with a sick feeling in my gut. You know that foggy state of Near Awake when you viscerally remember Something’s Amiss but you don’t yet have the mental faculties to remember What Exactly Happened? It was That. I woke up sad and somehow lonely. I knew, at least, No One Had Died, so thank God for that. That Feeling is more Charcoal and Ash Grey, like sticky soot on the gut. No, this was different. I was just Hurt. Like the way your heart falls on top of your stomach when someone who loves you is thoughtless or cruel in a way that’s impossible to understand.
That’s the Feeling I had when I woke, and, when the fog began to dissipate, I remembered it was Greg who’d hurt me. And as the fog cleared completely, I remembered in full What Had Happened to rip the fabric of our marriage in two.
I was late taking my daughter to elementary school this morning. She’s in high school, but that’s irrelevant. I was late, and I’d forgotten my pants, so I had to walk her into the elementary school building — in the winter, in the rain — while pulling my Kelly green Henley shirt (which I don’t own) over my panties, because everyone knows if you tug your T-shirt low, no one notices you’re not wearing pants.
My friend, Nicole (who hasn’t worked there for at least 6 years), was in the office when I arrived, and her gaze skittered over my pale thighs, but she didn’t mention my pantslessness because she’s a good friend, and also because she definitely wouldn’t lose her job as an elementary school learning resource teacher if she let a pantsless mommy wander around the school. I was frazzled at being late, and she could tell I was doing my best to get my kid to school at all, so she led the way to the library where my daughter’s class was busy at work at small tables having Quiet Reading Time.
After my kid scampered off, Nicole sat me down in the closest wheelchair and asked if I was okay.
I mean, how do you even answer that question after the morning I had?
First, I got stuck in my bedroom because I hadn’t trimmed the cherry tree I let grow there, so a branch jammed the door, and I couldn’t get it open. I was ashamed to admit it — no one else seems to have trouble staying on top of their tree-trimming household chores. Like, I don’t mean to compare my reality with others’ Fakebooking, Pinteresty, Instaglam lives, but seriously — it’s not that hard to keep Bedroom Cherry Trees trimmed before they get out of hand. Everyone else manages their indoor orchards just fine. Why not me?
So after being temporarily trapped and breaking brittle branches with my bare hands to release myself, I made my way to the kitchen where I checked my birthday cake in the freezer.
Look, I obviously don’t check on my birthday cake every day — that would be crazy — but even though my birthday has been in October for the past 45 years, now it’s in January, on the same day as my wedding anniversary, so I spent the last three days making the Perfect Birthday Cake, ensuring my whole family, no matter what their food allergies, preferences, and intolerances are, would be able to eat it, and let me tell you, cat butter is VERY hard to source, so that was no easy feat.
This particular cake is made with corn meal, sugar, eggs, and corn syrup and baked in a bundt pan. That’s Day One. After the cake cools, you cut it in half horizontally and fill it with fresh fruit — specifically with watermelon and pineapple slabs cut into letters to form the word “Louise.” After Louise is sandwiched between the cake halves, you wrap it tightly in plastic and place it in the fridge to set overnight. That’s Day Two. And on the third day, you slather it with cat butter and pop it in the freezer.
It’s a lot of work, but it’s SO worth it. And, because I’m the Smartest and I Know My Family, I made sure to write “Happy Birthday, Beth” on top of the cake in pink icing so no one would mistake it for a cake immediately available for eating.
My eyes filled with tears as I told Nicole what I found when I checked on my cake.
Half of it GONE. With fork marks and crumbs. And when I asked my family what happened, Greg admitted eating it after getting home late from work last night. Because he was hungry.
I just… I couldn’t believe it.
He KNEW how hard I worked on that cake.
He KNEW how long it took.
He KNEW it was for my birthday.
He KNEW how challenging it was to switch from being born in October to being born in January and the emotional upheaval involved.
He KNEW how conflicted I was over the cat butter and whether the mama cats miss their kittens, and whether they’re allowed to wean them appropriately, and whether they’re milked with kind, warm hands or hooked up to horrible cold metallic cat milking machines. And he KNEW I vowed to purchase no more cat butter until I answered some important questions about the humane milking of cats.
He KNEW all of that, and he ate the cake anyway.
As I poured the story and my devastation out to Nicole, a giant black spider — like, softball sized — jumped from my purse to the library floor and scampered under a book shelf.
I forgot I’d lost the spider when I snapped one of the cherry branches in my bedroom. I apparently disturbed its home, and it ran away from the tree. I couldn’t find it in my room, and I was late anyway so I didn’t have time to look thoroughly, and then, after the Cake Incident, I was so distraught, it slipped my mind entirely. I guess it crawled into my purse, though, and it was suddenly loose in the library, which wasn’t a problem until we realized it was a Frog Spider — as evidenced by its hind frog legs — with Enormous Leaping Capacity and Deadly Venom and needed to be dispatched before any of the kids were bitten.
DEAR LORD, friends.
It really was the WORST morning.
Don’t worry, though. We did manage to kill the Frog Spider after the principal pulled the fire alarm, got all the kids out of the building, and armed the adults with specialty hammers where the heads had been replaced with giant plastic thumbs and long, pointy thumbnails, which everyone knows is the only way to reliably off Frog Spiders. I’ll admit, I was pretty impressed with the agility of ancient Mrs. Adler, the welding teacher, as she hit a home run with that hammer, using the Frog Spider as the ball after it leapt off the top of the Clifford the Big Red Dog bookcase. FYI, they don’t offer welding at the elementary school so IDK exactly why Mrs. Adler was there, but it was definitely a Serendipitous Right Place/Right Time thing. That woman has an arm.
In conclusion, I’m still very upset with Greg. Understandably. And I haven’t talked to him about it yet because I don’t really know what to say or how he can make this better other than researching a humane (and local) source for cat butter and remaking the cake which seems a touch unrealistic given how much he detests baking. You can pray for us, in other words. And for reconciliation, for which I’ll hold out hope even though it currently seems impossible.
Waving, as always,
P.S. In case you think this is all just a dream, and I shouldn’t be mad at Greg for things he didn’t do, MAYBE.
P.P.S. One of my very, very favorite things to do is hang out with members of our incredible, worldwide community and offer rest and respite from our regular lives. I would LOVE to have you join me.
Or, if you want to head straight to the registration pages, you can register via my farm website, CAIRNS FARM:
- March 5-8, 2020 at the Oregon Coast — click here
- November 5-8, 2020 at the Oregon Coast — click here
- All Retreats and Adventures — click here
P.P.P.S. I feel you, Phoebe. I do.