Fork in the Road

Something in the way she asked “So you’re giving up baking?” has me questioning everything now. Karen is a woman that has known me since I was eighteen. She’s seen me through my first love, calling off my wedding, going to a private Christian university, a year of family crises, a string of short lived dating relationships, pastry school, moving to Spain, moving to Austin… she’s been there through it all. So has Maria. I’ve been a nanny for both of their families for over five years and now they are making me question everything. Maria is more like an actual mom to me where I sometimes discredit what she’s actually saying to me. But to hear Karen’s disappointment and to see her confusion over the last few days and the way she’s totally avoided talking about it… it’s really making me wonder what the fuck I’m doing!

“Yeah, I’m thinking about going back to school for Communications or Journalism.”
“Oh. Okay.”

Owning a bakery, however small it was, and watching it fall apart really broke my heart. It was what I’d always dreamt it would be. I was in charge of my schedule and my menu and I was so happy to finally have this thing that I could pour all of myself into! It held so much promise and was so much bigger than I am. The long days were brutal. I was totally alone, baking bread in my one oven, in my 400 square foot studio where I also lived. It was miserable towards the middle of summer. But when I think about the day I threw a bake sale in my apartment and posted signs all over my neighborhood, and people ACTUALLY CAME, that’s what really breaks my heart. I let go of it all so quickly. I was exhausted and overworked. I was totally not making enough money, but I was somehow breaking even. And when I worked as a pastry cook before at restaurants, I was making shit money, but I wasn’t totally worn down. I had days off and it was okay even enjoyable!

What if I don’t give up on a career in pastry? What if I stay in this field that I’ve poured my last few years into and what if I succeed? I miss being in the kitchen. I miss getting there early in the morning, pouring a cup of coffee, checking over my production list and my mise en place and knowing where to go from there. I miss having work friends and kitchen brothers. I miss the actual work of making ice cream bases and family meals. I miss striving to always get better.

I have some talent. I have a good palette. I’ve been beating myself up because my bakery didn’t and couldn’t grow. I would need so much more than my own hard work and whatever talent I bring to the table. But maybe I got ahead of myself and I just need to backtrack instead of doing a total re-write. I love baking. I loved working my restaurant jobs. What if there is a place for me in this industry? My doubts are that I don’t have enough talent, I won’t make enough money and I will get stuck in an entry level position.

What if in 10 years I look back on these few months and realize I was in crisis mode and needed to break away from it all to see how much I loved it? What if I go back to school, acquire a bunch of debt and a degree and realize I just want to be in a kitchen? Why do I keep getting the same reaction from everyone that I love? It’s the “Wow, I can’t believe you’re giving up so easily” reaction. I don’t want to give up.

Then again, knowing me, this is just another panicky moment where I’m questioning everything and wondering if I’m doing anything right at all. It could pass by the morning. I could still want to get a real people job. But I need to remember that going back to the kitchen is totally an option. I have options. All the doors are open. Sometimes you just have to pick something and stick to it. Other times you have to admit you made a mistake, re-evaluate and go a different direction. Crap. Adulthood is so hard.

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