The Scent of Chocolate Cake

I really like cake. That’s sort of a duh, but it’s still shocking to me because I have never been huge on cake — more of a candy girl — but now, I can barely see one without grabbing a fork. I usually push the majority of the icing off (especially if it’s store-bought), and focus on the airy stuff. Sugar, mixed with flour, mixed with just the right fats, to come together…to rise up and stand, tall enough to be taken down with four tines. It’s marvelous.

But even more than the actual ingestion of the cake — I like the scent of it baking.

A house that smells like food is not one I am used to. Neither my mom or my dad did much from the ground up in the kitchen. I don’t begrudge them of this — because, shit, it’s hard  — but I am not one accustomed to the smells of a home-cooked meal or freshly-baked sweets. Which is what makes those scents all the more enticing to me.

When we toured this house, there were freshly-baked cookies on the stove. Fuckin genius, man. I had so many warm thoughts when I walked through. I asked Nic if people were ‘supposed to’ eat the cookies on display, and he came back with a ‘Well…‘ kind of response, which means I grabbed one immediately. And another before we left.

We put an offer in about fifteen minutes after we saw the place, and they had accepted by the end of the day.

I try to cook here, sometimes. I have baked a couple times, too. But it always overwhelms me. When I do gear up for a recipe, I make sure that the steps are super simple, and that there aren’t too many ingredients. I have made muffins a couple times for our carb-obsessed toddler, but I tend to stray away from pies or cakes. They just seem…kinda hard.

Chocolate cake has always bored me. It just seems so one-note. Chocolate on chocolate. Bo-ring! Life is too big for such mundane things! Give me lemon with berries – red velvet with cream cheese — give me the spice of life, my dear — variety.

But. I tasted a cake in Chicago once and it threatened my prior way of life. It was chocolate on chocolate on chocolate — a layered cake with chocolate frosting in between the layers and on top — and while I couldn’t believe it, I was smitten.

So when Nic asked what I might like for my last birthday, I told him of this cake. We found an internet recipe and he went to work. I came home to the cake on the stove and felt like I’d been hit with a ton of bricks. Someone loved me enough to bake me a cake. And if we’re being honest here — it wasn’t just the ‘someone’ part. It was that that someone was a man.

I didn’t think men baked cakes very much. I didn’t think many people did, in general. To think that he would mix a batter, crack in eggs, use a toothpick to check doneness — frankly, it all took me by surprise.

It made me feel astoundingly loved.

**

When we first met, I was determined not to fall for him. I avoided holding his hand, and allowed his arms around me for short bursts of time, certain that I wouldn’t be caught, wouldn’t be engulfed by love.

Now, I chase him around the house, trying to make him hug me for longer than twenty seconds (*I read some damn study that said the twenty second mark was where something magical happened in the brain or some bullshit,) I grab his hand while we’re watching t.v., I pat him on the ass every time he walks by me. Now he’s the one who doesn’t need his arms around me all evening, and I’m the one who would be fine with it. Sometimes I sass him, saying ‘How did this come to be?’ and ‘Do you really even love me?’

He doesn’t need to say much. I can meet his eyes and know all I need to know. And I can find him in the kitchen, frosting a chocolate cake that he made for me on a Sunday night, just because.

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