Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Recipe for Friendship in 2012

In yoga the other day, as my head and upper back fell into an easy forward bend, the instructor asked us to think about the year 2011, and to let our actions and experiences shape our vision for 2012. So, as the blood rushed into my upside down head, I did a quick review of the events and people that have made a mark on me in the past year and thought about where I am now as a result of certain events and special people. 

How awesome are these gingerbread cookies? 
photo from

A few events stood out in my mind, but I’ll spare you all my life’s most mundane details. Instead, I want to recognize the people.

Many a friendship is formed over shared drinks. A bottle of wine and a few spilled secrets — “so-and-so is sooo hot” or “ugh, I just hate her!” often kick off the nights that later end in soppy tears and “I love you so much” or “you’re my best friend!” A few drinks, some confessions, followed by heartfelt promises of everlasting friendships.

A simple enough recipe, but the best things in life are never so simple.

Like the vanilla beans I recently obtained for placing second with my Manly Squash Cupcakes, the better things in life are more complex. Store-bought vanilla extract can’t even compare to the interlacing scents and layers of whole vanilla beans.

The more important, friendship-shaping moments are the ones that occur sans-alcohol. The recipe requires some hard-to find novelties:
  • A handful of real conversations about where your life might end up and why it scares you so much or about why you’re afraid to commit to a particular job/city/school/relationship
  • At least one honest and frank discussion about relationships past and how those have led you to mistrust a current romance in your life even though it seems so sparkly and wonderful on the surface
  • A sprinkling of real tears that are shed as you realize that the life you’ll spend together with your best friend is going to be a largely long-distance one, and that you’ll mostly communicate over the phone from opposite ends of the country
Without these ingredients, no recipe could ever withstand the heat of the oven (life). The cake would sink in the middle, or stick to the pan, or collapse under the weight of sickeningly sweet frosting. Underneath the glitz and sparkle, the base of your creation would be weak and imperfect.

I’m lucky enough to have a strong and incredible group of friends I can lean on. These relationships weren’t formed quickly either. Some started before, some during college, but all have been carefully maintained and strengthened over the years, treasured like some fancy dessert I haven’t attempted to bake yet.

When you say “goodbye” to your closest friends, the foundation of your friendship needs to be as strong as possible, or it would never withstand even the smallest of life’s many hurdles. Making the transition from roommates or neighbors to long-distance best friends is the first hurdle.

For four years in college, I lived in an environment where all I had to do was walk out of my bedroom door and I would find myself face-to-face with some of my closest friends. Now, I have to hop a bus or plane in order to see most of my best friends. Phone calls or online video chat pales in comparison to real, in-person quality time. (Think back to that vanilla analogy.)

When I say I miss college, it isn’t just about the convenience of being around so many friends. It’s the amazing feeling of being surrounded by the largest group of the most important people in your life — the biggest group you’ll likely ever be surrounded by for an extended period of time. The next time I find myself in the company of so many of my favorite people at one time will probably be my wedding night, and we all know that's not happening any time soon.

I’ve heard it said that how you spend your New Year’s Eve predicts how you will spend the following year. Last year, I rang in the new year at a fancy party with my parents and best friend. I haven’t attended a single black tie event since, so I’m not sure how much I believe the theory.

However, just in case, this year I intend to spend my New Year’s Eve with good friends and bottom shelf liquor, (I’ll probably be on a budget for quite some time). I’m going to visit friends in New York who I haven’t seen in months, and hope that this first visit will promise more to come. Maybe 2012 will be the year I visit all of my friends in their perspective new cities. Maybe it will be the year all of my friends come visit me.

Whatever 2011 has brought you, I wish you all a sweet 2012 filled with desserts! I'll keep bringing the recipes as long as you keep reading my blog!

Happy Baking and Happy New Year's! See you next year!

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