Celebrating 38 years of love — and pain
It’s my 38th birthday — and, I suppose, I could cry if I wanted to.
Thing is, I like this age.
I like it even though the calendars only flip in one direction.
Even though, if my figure can be thought of as having a geography, then each snickerdoodle and cheese puff is causing a slow and intractable landslide.
I like this age, even though I’d rather everything stay, for the most part, where it is now.
“How many years do you have?” my grandpa Friesen would ask when his surviving children and their grandchildren came to visit.
It may have been a quirk of translation, from Plautdietsch (or Low German) to English.
Or, it may be that the Plautdietsch words for growing older come from a culture that looks on aging as a gathering of years.
A belief that time is gained as we live it, rather than lost as it goes by.
It’s my 38th birthday and, if he could, my grandfather would ask me: “How many years do you have?”
I would tell him and he would nod in that way he had and say, “Gut. Plenty room for more,” before going to the freezer and pulling out a bucket of ice cream.
I was his “nice fat gurdie” and he was pleased to keep it that way, even though skinny was all I ever aspired to be.
I’ve been thinking of my grandpa this month.
He and I both had birthdays in November and this would be his 107th.
I’ve also been thinking about how, even if given the chance, I wouldn’t ask to be young again.
Not in my 20s.
Certainly not in my teens.
Not the age of Amanda Todd, who had only 15 years.
I don’t know what right I have to write about a girl I didn’t know, except I had an uncle I never met who also didn’t survive his bullies.
He and I both grew up in generations that came before social media and mistakes that live forever.
I grew up and he didn’t, but I still remember my own nicknames.
I remember being punched in the schoolyard and eating lunch alone.
I remember being afraid to go to school — and then not going.
I remember changing schools and provinces and changing schools again.
I remember gaining weight for a year and then losing 40 pounds in a month.
I remember anxiety eating at my insides, until surgeons felt it was time to go in and cut something out.
Yet, I survived.
I’m grateful I was able to see far enough into a future to hope for something different — and I suppose that’s why I’m telling you this now.
It’s my birthday
I have 38 years that no one can take.
I have friends and family who love me.
In the kitchen, Chefhusband, who reminds me of my grandfather, bakes flourless chocolate cupcakes that will collapse when done, leaving just enough room for ice cream.
Thing is, there’s life after bullying.
It may not feel like it right now but, I promise, if you gather just a few more years, one and then another, it’s possible everything will change.
“I didn’t feel old until I turned 80,” my grandpa Friesen used to say.
We should all be so blessed.
Flourless chocolate cupcakes
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
3 large eggs (room temperature), separated
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
In a bain-marie, melt butter and chocolate together, stirring as necessary, until liquid and glossy. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Whisk in egg yolks.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Add sugar, little by little, until stiff peaks form.
Whisk one-quarter of the egg whites into chocolate mixture. Scrape chocolate mixture into remaining egg whites and gently fold together.
Divide batter between 12 paper-lined cupcake tins.
Bake at 275 F for 25 minutes, until just set in centers. Transfer tin to a wire rack to cool completely. Cooled cupcakes will collapse in the centre, making a perfect cradle for ice cream.
Darcie Hossack is a food writer and author of Mennonites Don’t Dance (Thistledown Press). For past recipes, visit nicefatgurdie.wordpress.com. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.