She probably isn’t great at baking alone. No, in fact, I know that she’s not.
Once, a few months back, she insisted on making chocolate cupcakes for her collaboration night. “I don’t need any help” she said, defiantly. “Are you sure?” I asked, unsure that she didn’t actually need some help, just a little bit.
“It’s fine” she said.
She baked all afternoon, with various heads peeking in the kitchen and checking.
“Doing okay in here?” “Need any help?” “How’s it going?”
“It’s going fine.” “No thanks, I don’t need any help.” “Good!”
She was baking alone. And she was proud of it.
The timer went off and out came these beauties, chocolatey and ready for consumption:
Twenty-four-ish chocolate cupcakes warm in their glory ready to be decorated and served at her collaboration night. A night where her family members, friends from her neighborhood, citizens who also like baking, people from the Westside, kids, would all help think of ideas around a project. And her shining contribution, the treat she wanted to share to prove she “could do it alone” had failed miserably.
“Oh, Melissa….” I paused quietly. “We can’t serve these.”
There were tears of frustration, and tears of disappointment. She knew that serving those cupcakes would only prove to her family, her friends, and to others that knew her, that she really couldn’t do the things she thought she could, things she said she could do by herself.
There were lots of tears.
So Bridget, in her infinite wisdom said we could just pick some cupcakes up from Kroger. If cupcakes were important, damn it, we’d have cupcakes! And we served those, and no one was the wiser about the disastrous chocolate cupcakes that didn’t survive that afternoon. We threw away the evidence, and she wiped away the tears.
The conversation that night turned to what could she do with other people in her neighborhood, not how can she get better at doing things alone. A kid’s night at St. Al’s Church? Planning activities at the rec center that she volunteered? What about that annual 5k? Could she and others plan an after party for the run?
Yes. She could do that. She could do that with other people.
They could do that together.
Since then, with other people, she has met with Cincinnati Recreation Commission, and they’ve agreed to add “fun” to the “run.” They’ve even remarked that this could be done every year.
A band was needed for the after-party, and with other people, they’ve went to a few concerts to check out bands, emailed musicians and ultimately booked the Young Heirlooms. Currently, she and other people are finding food vendors for the event. There will be cornhole toss, games, and even a cupcake decorating booth for kids.
All of these things she cannot do alone.
Remember these cupcakes?
chocolate cupcakes for the collaboration night
Those were done alone.
See these beauties?
These are from baking with Mary. And now Mary has become a friend.
That’s the secret though. We don’t want people to do things alone. Being alone doesn’t open to the door to meeting people like Mary. And people like Mary are much more important than baking by yourself. This isn’t about independence or whether or not she could learn how to do things by herself. I’m sure Melissa could with LOTS of skill reinforcement, LOTS of practice and repetition. But this isn’t about that.
This is about relationships, meeting people, and being okay that we’re better together than we are alone.
The moral of this story is actually quite simple. Which cupcake would you prefer? The one baked alone, burnt and sagging, and tasting bitter? or the one baked with the sweetness of friendship proud on its platter and done together over an afternoon of conversation with a good friend?