Every once in awhile, I pick up the phone and dial a familiar number.  And when I hear the voice of an old friend, it is better than wrapping myself up in a blanket and bingeing on chocolate in a corner.  It is indescribably comforting to know that I still have this constant when everything in my life is in transition. 

Friends come and go in seasons.  Some stay for a short while and others last for a lifetime.  I am so incredibly blessed to have friends that have been with me since grade school, who have stuck around through those angsty adolescent years and through college to the uncertain world of adulthood.  And even while we may not be in the same city anymore, it is relieving to know that I can pick up the phone and carry on a conversation as if that connection has never been on hold. 

I can pour my heart out, joke indiscriminately, let down my barriers, and become the part of me inside that still hasn’t changed all these years.  There are no awkward silences, only comfortable pauses.  No pretenses, no bullshit, and no judgment.  Sympathy when I need it and brutal honesty even when I don’t want it—especially when I don’t want it.  There is genuine excitement to hear about each others’ lives, to share our fears and trepidation, hopes and aspirations, hurts and frustrations.

I can’t be anything else but me; there is simply no other way that I can be towards the people who have seen me at my best and at my worst.  Whether it was blubbering over lost loves, ranting about family issues, or cramming a semester’s worth of material right before the final-that-we-didn’t-study-for-because-we-were-too-busy-watching-all-7-seasons-of-Buffy-the-Vampire-Slayer.  How can I ever be strangers with the person who I trusted to stick my earrings back in through my closed up piercing?  That’s real intimacy, right there. 

   

                      

                       

For Halloween, my professor was gracious enough to invite me over to his place and carve pumpkins with his kids.  I can’t believe I’ve lived in America for almost two decades and I have yet to partake in this iconic tradition.  I wish I could say that one of the cooler pumpkins were mine, but unfortunately, I was less concerned with creativity than with trying to survive the actual carving.  Pumpkins are hard on the arms.  My work of art is obviously the pumpkin with the normal smiley face. 

     

And now to complete this random post, I present to you my favorite cupcake flavor thus far: Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes with Balsamic Vinegar (from Love and Olive Oil).  I thought the idea of using balsamic vinegar in a sweet pastry was so strange that I had to try it.  I made two batches for thank-you gifts.  Usually, I don’t eat most of my baked goods, but I absolutely loved the frosting on this one.  Something about fruit always makes pastries seem “healthier.”  The balsamic also lends a nice tanginess to the chocolate, making it refreshing to taste.  I wish I had a better picture, since my second batch of frosting was a little too runny, but you can do that at Love and Olive Oil’s food blog.  She’s got some gorgeous cupcakes.

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