A Dark Corner

Nearly every time I pass under an overpass on a freeway, I imagine someone has hurled their body over the bridge and will land on my windshield. Their terrified face only separated from mine by my windshield. Head cracked, blood beginning to pour, instantly pulled down and under my vehicle, a crumpled body in my rear view mirror, hit again by the person behind me.

I know it happens. I know there are people out there that have had this experience. I’ve heard about the first responders. My step dad was one of them. Several calls he made were of this very incident. Or a homeless person, mentally unstable, wandering into the middle of the freeway only to get pummeled by car after car. And the cars never stop. Unsure of what has just happened, they press forward. Surely it’s their imagination, there’s no way that could have been real.

But the day it happens to me, I will know exactly what has happened because I have been expecting it to happen for so long.

Maybe it’s because suicide is extremely real to me. My grandfather hung himself in his garage when I was thirteen. Or perhaps it’s because I’ve been told such gruesome tales since I was a pretty small kid. It was just part of my parents jobs. My mom was an ER nurse. My step dad was a fireman. My obsessive tendencies couldn’t have helped either. Nightmares as a kid included a lot of juxtaposed scenarios. The re-occuring dream that haunted me for years took place in a big play room for kids, made of pink cotton candy. We’re all jumping and laughing, in slow motion, children’s laughter echoing throughout. And suddenly, one piercing gun shot comes from out of sight. It’s over for all of us.

I lived in Seattle for five years. The Aurora Bridge is the second most common bridge for people to commit suicide from. I stumbled upon this article a few years ago and became obsessed. I drove over this bridge every day. I lived only a few hundred feet from it. I was most likely home when that girl jumped. The thing I still hold onto is that the people working at the office building facing the bridge had to close their blinds because they couldn’t stand to see people jumping anymore. Several times I found myself talking to police officers patroling the shores because someone had jumped within hours before.

Perhaps because of these images being so real to me, and maybe because I get fixated on the horror of them, Halloween does not strike me as something fun to celebrate. It’s stressful and only adds to the library of horrific incidents that play over and over in my mind. But somehow the general public really enjoys being scared and being involved in terrifying each other.

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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.