Life's better with cake and a sprinkle of fairy dust
I was working the late shift alone in my bakery when I burnt my thumb on a crazy-hot piece of sugar. As I ran the offending blister that formed almost instantaneously under running, water, I took one look at the numerous scars, mostly burn marks, on my forearms, my nubby, dirty, bare nails and the dry, rough skin on the back of my hands and, no kidding, nearly burst into big, vain tears.
It seemed like a lifetime ago that I was getting regular manis and pedis, lash extensions, hair extensions… the ladylike works. Nail art was my thing back then. I also used to get fortnightly touchups for my lashes and was even fondly remembered by students at one school as the teacher that wore colourful heels, a different colour for each day of the week.
Traded all that for a shot at an f&b empire. Been nearly 5 years since my last manicure. Long gone are the heels and pretty dresses. The scars are the worst part. They don’t ever go away completely, lingering like shadows on my skin, like a bad bruise or an unwashed spot of grime. More than a physical affliction, the scars are a daily reminder of the choices I have made in the circumstances I have found myself in.
My good friend, L, battles psorasis. She has scars too, red, angry patches of raised old and new skin tissue, that flare up all over her arms and torso when she’s sick or stressed. She once said to me she was self-conscious. I seriously think she is one of the hottest people I have ever met. Like if I were to swing any other way but straight, she would be the first choice to shag. Her scars, to me, are like the beautiful markings on a butterfly’s wings. She laughed when I told her that.
Ran into an old customer, G, on my way to work. I did a well-concealed double take, for her hair had turned completely white nearly overnight. Severe depression. G was at her wits’ end. I cheerfully cracked a joke about a counselling session involving tea and cake. The corners of her eyes crinkled with surprised relief that I wasn’t judging. I had normalised her illness because I umderstand pain and am well aware that the worst scars are often unseen. Two days later, G came into my bakery looking for a cake for her 52nd birthday. I baked her a simple cake which she insisted on paying me way too much money for. I only hoped the cake had made her day a little more bearable.
One of my friends, V, is a… how do I put it, master (mistress??) of pain. Nothing kinky there. V knows chronic pain, like at Master Yoda level, for the past 2 years since a traffic accident. I cannot imagine the pain she goes through every second. Yet she is the most optimistic, happy, chillaxed person I will ever known. Ok maybe because I haven’t witnessed the Hulk transformation when the meds wear off. It’s almost like her superpower is pain management. This I learnt from you, V, we laugh because we can.
Back to my bimbotic, teary episode in the kitchen. In that split-second of frustration trying to deal with the searing pain and a overwhelming schedule/overworked mind, my scars seemed a burden, ugly reminders that taunt me about life choices. The shallow part of me wondered who in their right mind would ever look beyond my unsightly scars. Would I ever find someone who thinks my scars are art, who sees beyond my scars, even the invisible ones and that in spite of my scars and pain suffered, appreciate that I am alive and I can laugh?
Then again, who needs a “someone”, esp someone who only sees my stars, when I’ve got my scars? These scars bear perfect testimony to the person I am, the stuff I’ve done and the journey I’ve come along so far on. They will be with me, in wealth or in health, till death do we part. Something along those lines.
So love my stars, love my scars. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
It’s okay to feel alone, lost, and empty, for everything that’s lonely finds its company. Everything lost is meant to be found and everything empty eventually gets filled. – Robert M. Drake
P.S. A thing of beauty such as a croquembouche knows too well the journey of heat and pressure, scars and pain, time and labour.