This year -- the one where I signed on to bake 50 cakes and take them to bars around Los Angeles in hopes of finally finding a boyfriend -- also happened to be the one where my best friend Chrissy, my roommate and the champion behind my baking and blogging shenanigans, was diagnosed with brain cancer.
What has transpired since is a kind of forced marriage in our apartment between sugar and sickness, barhopping and pharmaceuticals, and so many cakes buoying us along with their implied celebratory presence. The repercussions of both situations -- the cancer and the cakebarring -- have actually started to mirror each other in strange but comforting ways. Chrissy tries out new wigs while I try out new recipes. We learn how to talk to doctors about cancer while we learn how to talk to boys in bars. Our friends take Chrissy to MRI scans when I'm at work, walking her dog and offering to sleep over, the same saints who drive across LA at all hours of the night to eat cake in bars even when they aren't hungry, just to help me with my blog. I really don't know what we'd do without them.
Perhaps the biggest irony of all is that while I've been baking non-stop, Chrissy can't eat any of the cake or drink anything at the bar, forced into taking a more passive role in the boyfriend baiting project she jokingly suggested I start up last year, and then pushed me to actually complete.
The morning we learned something was seriously wrong with her was the day after I found out someone I really loved was definitely not interested in being my boyfriend, and I must have misinterpreted all of the beautiful things he had said to me. There was really no point in dwelling on the rejection, and I was ready to give up on the blog that had led me to him; it was suddenly far more important to shift full focus to Chrissy's treatment and her recovery. She insisted I start baking and going to bars again, continuing on with the project. "It will be so good for your writing," she kept saying. "It will lead to something."
My favorite thing I've written all year is a blog entry about her, a welcome digression from boys and cakes and bars. I wrote it after visiting her at the hospital a few hours after she woke up from brain surgery in June. It's the only thing I've ever written in one sitting.
Up until this year, I always felt like I had a tiny voice. It comes out higher and frailer than I think it is, and I cringe when I hear it play on my voicemail recording at work. Maybe this is why I love to write, and why I love my cakebarring project. I'd like to think the only thing that comes across is the voice I want people to hear -- unwavering, funny, grateful, possibly tinged with diabetes. It's the same voice I tried to get out while comforting Chrissy in her doctor's office during that first visit in May when he gently told us that she most likely had a brain tumor. It's the same voice I need while we wait out the rest of her treatment.
It would be more than appropriate to say the year has been a series of sugar highs and sugar crashes, hints of opportunity interrupted by reminders of our vulnerability in the face of illness. I have so much gratefulness for all the good in my lucky life, and for all the wiser I am from the bad. I didn't find a boyfriend this year, but I have no complaints.