December 22, 2010
My favorite musician in L.A, Brother Sal, has a song called Broke and Busted. As I do all of his songs, I really like this one, and often find myself singing along to it, pretending I’m some great jazz singer belting it out to a pleased crowd. I never thought I was going to be able to relate to the theme of the song so much - until last night
Yesterday evening, I was finally able to meet my dearest friend, Coco, for tea at the local Starbucks. Both of us in the same broke state, and me being without cash and only with visa (I literally had pennies and nickels in my wallet, and not enough to even make $0.50), I told Coco I would treat. She didn’t argue (she often extends this very gesture to me), and chose a $0.75 cinnamon twist. I chose a $1.60 chai tea. After tax, we were looking at $2.36.
Two dollars and thirty six cents.
All I could think was, “Lauren – you don’t even have enough change to make $2.36 in your wallet??”
I turned to Coco and laughed as I urged her, “Come on, girl, get something bigger than that! I can’t charge $2.36 to my Visa….can I?” This last part was directed at our trusty barista, who informed me that I could indeed charge such a ghastly amount to my visa.
Shut the front door!
“It’s ok,” I assured our Starbucks friend, “Coco and I will be laughing about this very moment when we are sitting on our patios overlooking the ocean in Malibu 2 years from now.” We laughed. He laughed awkwardly, no doubt to be polite (and now that I think of it, maybe on account of being scared that we might rob him….lol), definitely thinking we were crazy. If he only knew.
It’s funny, and I’m laughing, but behind my smile and disbelieving laugh I feel that ugly lump forming in my throat and tears threatening to escape from my eyes as they burn them.
How did I get here?
Coco and I attempted to answer that very question, and continued with a conversation over concerns about how on earth we were both working 40 hours a week and not able to meet month’s end expenses, much less afford a cup of tea from Starbucks, or a $0.75 cinnamon stick, for that matter. This city seems to be at a standstill in terms of employment at present. Trust me. I’ve been dropping my resumes off to restaurants (the only place conducive to a full time school schedule) around the city for the past 3 months. I keep coming up empty, a state my bank account is fast approaching. I’m about to pass go and I won’t be collecting $200!
I digress. After our tête-à-tête, Coco left me at Starbucks for a meeting she had already committed to, and promised to return to get me later to whisk me away to her mom’s house for dinner. After a series of events in search for working internet and a bathroom that was actually in service, events that I can only label as the universe testing my nerves and will and that had me muttering profanities like, “Son of a nutcracker!” to myself, I ended up at a Starbucks 5 blocks away from the one where Coco had left me an hour earlier. She appeared like my knight in shining armor in her white mini cooper, complete with her beautiful mama in the backseat, and off we went to her house.
Mama Coco fed us, and we sat around and chatted about life. My favorite comment of the night was when Coco and I were recounting our having to charge $2.36 to my visa, and she said, “The funny thing is that it wasn’t like we had to charge it because we forgot our cash at home.” There was no need to finish this thought. I was already doubled over in laughter.
And that’s just it, friends. Sometimes, there is nothing left to do but laugh. When I sat down to write this entry 10 minutes ago, Coldplay’s Don’t Panic came on – that’s kind of funny, right?
Seriously, though, there is a reason I am here in Vancouver, determined (to a fault?) to acquire the knowledge I need to make my bakery the best it can be, and to be the best pastry chef I can be by learning from the best pastry chefs in town (now I feel like I’m starting to sound like an add for the army – be all you can be! They do pay for school, though…hm….just kidding).
The universe is just throwing me some curve balls to see if I can handle them – to see if I can stand the heat in the pastry kitchen or if I need to get out (you do all know that I make really corny jokes sometimes – or rather - often – right?)!!
Well bring it on, universe, because I’m IN! I’ve taped that receipt to my mirror to remind me of my goal, and I will keep it until the day I die – a silent but powerful reminder of where I came from, and how hard I worked to get to this vision: of me and Coco, sitting on my patio in Malibu, dipping our homemade cinnamon twists in our chai tea, the waves of the ocean crashing against the earth as we talk about that night at Starbucks - the night that will forever go down in history as the night that I charged $2.36 to my credit card, the night that we discovered laughing was a far better choice than crying. We will laugh so hard that we will cry…or something like that.
Yours truly (and a little broken but still standing),
*Important note to my readers:
I wrestled with the decision to post this or not, again, because I really don’t want to come across vulnerable, or that I’m in a dark place. I am vulnerable. I am not in a dark place. I’m in a challenging place for certain. It’s scary, but it’s not dark. It’s hopeful. I realize, though, that if I keep the intimate moments from you like the one outlined above, then the idea to capture my journey through pastry school would be rendered completely inauthentic.
In my first vulnerable post, I made mention of the fact that there will inevitably be bumps along the road to achieving our goals. Well, I’ve decided to share (almost) all of those bumps with you. So in addition to my authentically excited updates about libraries, pastries, school and other magical moments, expect more of me, stripped away of my “looking good” listening and speaking – raw, bare – just me.