We made it through, really. Myself and everyone else playing that sordid game that involves far too much coffee and far too little sleep this time of year. Finals are over, my five research papers are turned in, and for the first time in a very long time I feel focused.
I always expect the end of the semester to appear to me in some kind of tangible way, like the blinking eye of a traffic light signaling finality with each click. I can’t quite pin this feeling down, though I’m sure it has something to do with growing up in a family for whom any excuse was acceptable to bring home a cake. We braved snowstorms and nor’easters in our quest to the town bakery so we could celebrate the “first blizzard” of the season or the return of electricity after a brief power outage. I remember running to the bakery in the middle of one November to celebrate the anniversary of the day my parents purchased their house twenty years earlier.
“The house needs a cake,” my mother had said. “Let’s go get the house a cake.”
Those chocolate butter cream cakes transformed distinctly intangible elements of our lives into a very tangible kind of joy. Joy that we could slice into and share piece by piece so that by the time the cake was gone we were physically and emotionally filled. Joy shared is joy multiplied.
Yesterday afternoon, after the last of our finals had been turned in, Ellie and I celebrated with Kelsey at her apartment in Brooklyn. I put on an apron for the first time in over a week and stood in Kelsey’s delicately lopsided kitchen (the entire brownstone slopes gently to the right), sneaking nibbles of the three-ingredient cookie dough we were baking between generous glasses of wine. And though I had spent most of the day numb to the feeling of the semester’s close, suddenly the finality felt very tangible to me.
I could taste it. And it tasted like joy.