“Nostalgia, to me, is not the emotion that follows longing for something you lost. It’s the feeling that overcomes you when some minor vanished beauty of the world is restored…the ache that arises from the consciousness of lost connection.” Michael Chabon
Ann called the number, a number she knew as well as her birth date or social security number, knowing no one was on the other end to pickup. She called often maybe out of habit, maybe hoping for a different result. Was she going crazy? Perhaps. The last few years had taken bites out of her leaving open wounds easily irritated by everyday happenings. In the last few months Ann noticed a callous forming over those wounds. She had become accustomed to feeling untethered since Tess’s passing. She longed for her and yet she felt free. The freedom came from the lack of familial obligations to the family she was born into. Tess insisted the family gather, celebrate everything, talk to each other weekly all while the latest elephant in the room went unmentioned. Until it was mentioned. Then the fireworks and what a beautiful display. Anger, resentment, accusations, and insults hidden behind the initial phrase “to be honest with you” exploding over a dinner of spaghetti, meatballs, garlic bread, and Chianti wine. It wasn’t pretty but it was entertaining. Entertaining as a child but less so as an adult when suddenly you were included in the boxing match.
“To be honest with you” is a phrase Ann despised though she had used it herself at times in the company of her family. What an idiotic phrase. Should I assume you are lying to me if you don’t first preface your next statement with “to be honest with you?” As Ann aged she felt less tolerance for the bull shit of others and her own especially. She could no longer tolerate not being completely aligned with herself, whatever form that self took these days. When she found herself apologizing for the slightest infraction she mocked herself for doing so. When Ann played the role of people pleaser she felt her skin itch as if it were about to peel and molt exposing a new self. A self she both feared and welcomed at the same time.
Does age or loss change a woman? Is one a stronger force than the other? Lately, Ann thought of these questions often. The loss of her mother, the love of her life, had devastated her. In the dark moments of grief she feared she would not recover. Now she knew better. Loss like age will leave its marks. Beautiful, unique marks.
As the plane crept into the sky, as the wheels found their place again, and the plane’s wing sliced a cloud Ann felt nothing but relief to leave home. For the first time in forty three years she could leave Boston with no guilt or worry over Tess. She was free, finally. Ann would continue to care for her children and husband. She would continue to care for her father as she promised Tess. Maybe his sobriety would take this time. Maybe it was a foolish hope. She would maintain friendships worth maintaining and feel no guilt for those lost. She would dial Tess’s number knowing no one was there to pick up. It wasn’t crazy. It was misplaced love.
Ann realized the ache she felt was nostalgia. Nostalgia for Tess and all that she brought to Ann’s world. A pink day lily. Pistachio ice cream. A night swim. So many things brought to light again bringing joy to Ann and a reminder that Tess is gone.
Egg Yolk Cake
Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook
2 + ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 + 2/3 cups sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup of unsalted butter
1 + ¼ cups of milk (any kind)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
5 egg yolks, unbeaten
Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and flour Bundt pan thoroughly otherwise the cake will stick. I use baking spray when I am feeling lazy, and it works well.
Add the dry ingredients to your mixer bowl and whisk until combined. Add the butter and beat on low to medium speed until just starting to blend. Next, pour in half of the milk and the vanilla and almond extracts. Beat on medium speed until well combined, about 2 minutes. Pour in remaining milk. Add egg yolks. Beat on medium speed until well combined, about 2 minutes. Using a spatula gently mix the batter scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure everything is incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan. Bake until golden brown or when a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Check the cake after 35 minutes and adjust baking time as needed.
Allow the cake to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before inverting the Bundt pan. Allow the cake to cool completely before serving. Store cake at room temperature in an air-tight container. Leftover cake will last 2 to 3 days. Enjoy!
**This cake is excellent alone but also delicious with fresh fruit and whipped cream, fresh strawberry sauce, or ice cream.**
5 Vintage Cake Links