I never thought any of this would be easy. But I never thought it would be this hard, either. Hard in ways that it didn’t need to be, which is probably the most frustrating type of hard there is.
I baked my last loaves of bread on Saturday… for now. Loaves that are sold to other people, I should clarify — the home baking will never stop. I woke up this morning, not at the usual 2am but at a reasonable 7am, and I was sad. It’s time to move on, I know that in my gut, but the closing of the metaphorical door is always hard no matter what the reason.
My bread partner-in-crime, aka Sugar Bottom, and I, aka Sassy Cat, had a good run. He taught me how to shape baguettes, mix dough to the perfect texture, and smile while I baked. On the days we didn’t work together, he’d leave me notes, always ending with the reminder that no matter what craziness might be in store that day, “it’s just bread.” I still need to learn how to not cut myself when changing the razor blade on a lame, how to stay within the lines when scoring baguettes, and how to be easier on myself. That last one is the hardest one.
My bread mentor reminds me often that when he wakes up in the morning, he loves going to work, and why should we accept anything less? He’s right. I loathed going to work. The 2am wake-up calls aside, I hated walking into the dark and lonely bakery by myself, wondering what chaos would be waiting inside for me. How long would it take me to find the pastry brush for egg-washing the croissants? Would there be any egg wash? Would there be any eggs? Would the scale work to weigh the eggs if we even had any? Hard and frustrating for the stupidest reasons. The owner and I got into a tiff on my way out the door on my last day at the bakery. I hate tiffs. I hate animosity. I hate unhappy endings. But as my dad always says, “No one said that life is easy, Muffet.” He’s right, too. It was during my tiff with the owner when I was speaking my mind that I realized how the bakery even stayed alive at all — a kick-ass team, who busted our dedicated and passionate asses despite the conditions in which we were asked to work. Sugar Bottom always smiled. Pastry Cat always meowed — and bought milk every time we ran out. The woman with the awesome pink hair who shaped croissants, shaped perfect croissants. The culinary team left me surprise hot breakfasts on my bread bench when they knew I was back in the bread cave for hours sweating my ass off. And that’s when I realized that starting every day there sucked, but ending it was awesome. My blood, sweat, tears and burns were shared with awesome people making awesome products every day. The people make or break a business. Although I’ve always known that in my other lives, it was never as lightbulb-moment clear as it was when I was closing the door on my first chapter of this one.
The other day I heard Tom Petty’s Learning to Fly on the radio. I haven’t heard that song in years, but man is it a good one. It struck a chord (literally and figuratively) and then things started to make more sense about where I am in my journey right now… lost but excited, scared but inspired.
“Well, some say life will beat you down
Break your heart, steal your crown
So I’ve started out for God knows where
I guess I’ll know when I get there
I’m learning to fly but I ain’t got wings
Coming down is the hardest thing
I’m learning to fly around the clouds
But what goes up must come down”