cake as a metaphor

I made a Dr. Pepper cake yesterday.

Like so many things right now, it just didn’t pan out.

I think you could sum up what I’ve been experiencing since april just one, big, Dr. Pepper cake from a cooking blog I have yet to vet… or rather, I had yet to vet. I’ve vetted it now, it’s not good. The cake was one big note of muted chocolate and the icing tasted like chocolate flavored Crisco with the toothpasty grit of powdered sugar throughout.

If toothpasty isn’t a common way to describe something, it should be.

My sweet husband said it tasted like coconut (which it oddly did) and we briefly and very inaccurately considered that coconut might be one of the 23 flavors found in Dr. Pepper.

“Where is the Dr. Pepper?!?” I asked myself as I took a few bites, mourning the waste of a can of that sweet nectar and half a container of cocoa powder.

I suppose it’s just a metaphor for the space around me right now. And let me point out that I struggled to write that last line to include space rather than world. This past week, more than ever, I’ve worked to be intentional with everything I write or post to the internet. So much of what we say right now is the wrong thing. I’m told it’s okay to be one type of wrong but not the other so, for the most part, I’ve just backed away from saying anything at all.

But writing “space around me” feels accurate. My space, my world, my slice of life… it’s mine and that damn cake is 100% a metaphor for it.

So where is the Dr. Pepper?

Yesterday I spent about 75 minutes ensuring the Dr. Pepper flavor would be noticed. 35 minutes scanning recipes until I found what I thought was the right one and 40 minutes putting this thing in the oven. On a grander scale, I’ve spent much more time than that building what this cake is representing. About 2 weeks shy of 16 years to be exact (I don’t wrap college into that, I could have gone many different directions after I moved my tassel from one side of my mortar board to the other). I’ve put a lot of time, care, heartache, tears, joy, time away from loved ones, celebration, and hours upon days without seeing time at home all for the greater good of a gathering. So of course there was some marked disappointment when what I put that care into didn’t return the favor.

But instead of my questioning the missing Dr. Pepper, I was left questioning the lack of loyalty.

It probably sounds left of center to ask for a thing to be loyal to you. I think that’s what happens to so many of us… right? If we’re passionate about our careers, they quit being careers and become living and breathing things that we’ve so carefully crafted. That’s where those stages of grief I first spoke about at the end of March come in. I’m grieving the loss of something that had life… processing it and compartmentalizing it as best I can.

If you’re new to that concept, the five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Denial went to the wayside pretty quickly in this case. Anger lurked for quite some time and took some on some interesting shapes. I don’t recall hanging out in a state of bargaining for any time at all but I’m sure it was there. I’m hoping for the sake of putting it all to bed, that I’m able to put my finger on what that looked like for me. For the first time in my life I’m experiencing depression as it’s written in textbooks and let me tell you, I do NOT like that one at all. And finally, I think I’m currently working on the acceptance stage.

At least, that’s where I’m placing compartmentalizing and processing. It’s a logical way to organizing everything that’s going on into nice, neat little storage bins.

But still I’m left with this cake that not only doesn’t takes like it’s name… but isn’t even tempting enough for me to sneak a bite when no one is looking.

And that’s where I’m stuck. Looking for my next opportunity within this living, breathing thing I worked so hard on for 16 years or realizing how fragile that world is and doing something more logical, more sound, and safer for my future. Industry jobs are very few and even farther apart right now. When I find one, I’m excited about it for maybe 24 minutes and then the fear around the stability of that job settles in. Is it worth it to move across country for a job in an industry that is so dang fragile? So fragile that it’s not fully cracked just yet. The next few months to a year (hopefully not longer) will continue to see the pieces of that world fall away.

To tie it back to my cake, do I try my hand at another cake, knowing I might use up the last of my Dr. Pepper and cocoa powder or do I move on to something I might have more ingredients for.

It’s an interesting intersection I find myself at.

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