I baked the man a cake. Not just any cake. A birthday cake. A lemon one. In a bundt cake pan — which I also had to purchase. Because the man I was seeing back in 2017 said he liked lemon cakes and a bundt cake was the first thing that came to mind. Once the thought was there — it wouldn’t leave.
I searched online for a recipe that didn’t sound too complicated or too horrible, because lemon is not a flavor I would ever eat on purpose, under normal circumstances. I don’t even put lemons (or limes) with my tequila — I take my shots with an orange. But the cake I was baking wasn’t for me.
It was for a man.
Even my next-door neighbor pointed out when I mentioned I had also cooked for said man, “Ann, you don’t even cook for yourself!”.
I did realize that. Up to that point, the only Humans I would break out pots and pans for carried my DNA, or were married to Humans who carried my DNA. It was a very short list.
But I digress. The lemon cake was a hit because I am a damn fine cook and an excellent baker. But the bigger lesson here is how we speak our Love languages to each other.
The above-mentioned relationship managed to creep along for another few months or so after the lemon birthday cake. But the truth of the matter is this — I’m not really fond of nurturing grown-ass men. And as my neighbor pointed out — in those days — I didn’t even nurture myself.
This relationship imploded when we just couldn’t translate each other’s Love languages. We were both good Humans — but we were not good for each other. I think that happens a fair amount of time in relationships. Humans attempt to give each other what they need, instead of what their partner needs.
After a time, I took my neighbor’s words to heart. I decided to nurture myself. Befriend all my parts — body, soul, and spirit. I stopped dating completely. I stopped looking for my Love language to show up magically in the guise of another Human.
I spoke Love to myself. And she understood me.
Addendum: Nearly four years have gone by since I baked that first lemon cake. I’ve made it several more times since and found that even though lemon is not my go-to flavor, this particular cake is really damn good. I am not quite ready for The Great British Bake Show, but I am a very good baker.
I still bake for everyone I love. My neighbor and his son get Christmas cookies as do several others. When My Best Friend comes to town, I joyfully bake AND cook for him. I made my roommate the lemon cake and then a gluten-free French almond cake. But the strawberry-rhubarb pie I made — well — that was because Real Ann wanted it. And I happen to Love Real Ann enough to bake for her as well these days.