My tarted-up fantasy

T.E. Elliot wasn’t kidding when he said, “April is the cruelest month.” Between the colds and migraines that both my love and have suffered over what has to be the wackiest spring weather (record-breaking heat in March, snow in April and a rough cold wind that won’t go away), excessive dog walking to train the little one, paying taxes, rushing here and there for various medical and auto appointments—plus on my part, a front row seat to what I’m calling a travesty of injustice—April has me in its (oddly icy) grip and is forcing me to the mat. It’s also forcing some (probably) overdue soul searching about what I should be doing and where I should be doing it.

I do believe that a change is as good as a rest—and until most of the last decade of my life—change was a constant. I worked in industry where if you stayed in the same job for more than a few years, it meant you were getting stale and in danger of becoming too complacent. My last two fulltime jobs in the ad business were my favorites; the very last one probably the one in which I had the most freedom, creatively and otherwise. On one hand, if I’d stayed, I’d probably be a partnered VP by now. But it’s impossible to say, since the creative director who made that freedom possible left to start another company (yes, there’s always that possibility), the other owner passed away and the company was acquired by a larger firm.

And staying wouldn’t have changed a thing. Or stopped everything else from changing. No wonder this kind of soul-searching makes one want to escape into happy fantasies.

For most people, fantasies involve sunny beaches with a frozen beverage at hand. That’s not for me. I remember the look my love gave me once when I told her that if we ever won a lottery, I wanted to buy an orchard because I thought growing apples would be a really fun way to make a living. Apparently I missed the point of winning a lottery in the first place.

So this morning, just after dawn, while whipping up a butter cake from an antebellum period southern recipe for my love’s birthday, one of my favorite fantasies began playing in my mind. When I worked in the advertising industry, during the frequent periods of absolute chaos, I would threaten to give it all up and open a bakery. Over the years, that generic “bakery” I could hide in has formed and reformed in my mind to become very specific.

I can see it as if it were right in front of me. The baby pink and a seaformy turquoise retro sign with funky type spelling out “All Tarted Up.” Just tarts, all tarts, (because tarts are the new cupcakes). A dozen everyday classics, plus a dozen specialty flavors that change with the season and my mood. Bright and shiny baby pink walls and a spic and span black and white tile floor, worthy of a diner named Al’s or Frank’s, with a gleaming glass counter filled with tarts. Old-fashioned sour cherry, vanilla-laced crunchy crème caramel in a shortbread crust, mile-high meringues on zesty translucent key lime cream in a chocolate dipped crust and chili-infused dark chocolate French silk. For starters. I would write the menu as a lusty erotic poem, crafted to seduce and satiate tart lovers everywhere. My wares would accompany customers home in pretty scalloped seafoam cartons tied with pink bows. Our uniforms would be retro too—50s pleated bowling shirts for the boys (and some girls who’d prefer them), sexy bodice aprons for girls, pointed kitten heels—and pearls. Always pearls. Costumes that are a pleasure to wear and inspire happy thoughts of a sweet era gone by. I presume they’d be so cute and in such demand; eventually we have to sell them too. And of course the neighborhood would be on the edge of up and coming, trendy, but still in transition, a place of raw chic and infinite possibilities.

Sigh. Infinite possibilities. Maybe that’s what I’m missing.

The crazy thing is that when I return to earth and add up what various financial institutions call my “available financing,” I think I’d actually have enough to do something this crazy and so out of my comfort zone. The thing is…would I? I have no formal food training. I have no idea how to choose real estate. I have another fourteen years of mortgage.

I think that’s the problem. What happens when a fantasy becomes a possibility—how to you make a leap of faith when your legs and your courage are stiff from too many years of insufficient use. Do I still have an appetite for change? Will my spirit gather adequate steam to make the jump? And am I courageous enough to deal with the consequences of a “pie in the sky” idea becoming the source of my daily bread?

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One Comment on “My tarted-up fantasy”

  1. […] I am. But I’m not looking for another job. And I’m not opening a tart shop, as tempting as it may be. I need to lean on my real strengths. I’ve had a concept for a creative […]


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