Brand: Mr. Kipling
Found at: Tesco
It was a miserable day for a walk. It is the last week in June, but the weather has turned extremely sour. I was warned that the Scottish summer would be like this, but the unseasonable warmth and sunshine of May had lulled me into a false sense of security. But now the rain and the wind are back with a vengeance: a mini Fall in the height of summer.
After a week of hard work, stuck inside my apartment, I was determined that a little rain was not going to dampen my spirits. The truth was, I was beset by the quarantine blues: with no sunshine, no indoor visits, and several of my close friends sick with tonsillitis, I was restless and lonely and bored beyond endurance. I had to leave my house – I had to see something besides the four walls of my garishly painted dorm room – and I shook my pale fist at the sky, daring the weather to try and stop me.
By lunchtime I was drenched. My rain jacket had kept my arms dry, but the water had wicked up my chinos, soaked through my leggings, and was slowly moving up my midriff with the same slow determination with which I was slowly moving through town. My cheerful sense of purpose had retreated as my socks filled up with water, and now the only thing keeping me going was the knowledge that the alternative was to go home, to my four familiar tangerine walls.
Taking shelter under a tree at a neighborhood park, I removed my lunch from its soggy packaging, and watched morosely as muddy dogs ran after wet tennis balls. The sky was the twilight color of heavy clouds and the sounds of the park were overwritten by the relentless rustling of raindrops on leaves. I sulked as I ate, recounting all the ways that this adventure had been a mistake. But at the bottom of my bag, past the wet bread of a flavourless chicken club, was a little waterproof package of pink cake.
Opening it, the smell of sugar and butter and vanilla cut through the smell of mud and wet cotton. While every other color was muted and darkened by the rain and clouds, this little slice of cake was still bright and vibrant – the last dry thing I owned. It tasted like the birthday cakes I used to get as a kid: sweet and fragrant and nostalgic and mass produced. And it was the first unexpected good to happen to me in a long time.
And so, I sat under that tree, in that unnamed Scottish park, eating cake and crying. Crying because I was cold when I wanted to be warm, isolated when I wanted to be together, and directionless when I wanted to purposeful. And crying because, for all the cold and damp of a dreadful June, there was still the taste of cake.