A little sun-soaking, and contemplation, in a land I love

Hello sweet readers, if you are still there...

I've been away on vacation for the past couple of weeks. Rose and Shawn's wedding cake (at the Arctic Club on November 3rd) was the last one I created and delivered before stepping on the plane, bound for South Africa. Their cake was an utter joy... and as I was setting it up, while their guests enjoyed cocktails below us in the Polar Bar, Rose and Shawn were in the Dome Room, earnestly practicing their first dance. The inimitable voice of Norah Jones echoed in the ballroom as this beautiful couple slowly stepped in time, growing freer and more confident with each other each time the DJ hit "repeat"...  (I think the song was played three or four times until Rose and Shawn felt sure-footed about repeating the dance with a larger audience than just their wedding coordinator, photographer, and pastry chef.) I sneaked many peeks at them in the process, which was easy since the cake was displayed in front of a mirror...  It was so sweet to feel their love fill the room and hear their giggles as Shawn stepped on the train of Rose's gown; meanwhile I had five tiers to assemble and the overwhelming urge (as I often do) to keep tweaking the sugar flowers on the cake top long after I might call myself "satisfied" with their placement.

So... I am on vacation. A strange feeling!  After all, the 2012 wedding season was incredibly busy for me -- some weeks, I could barely pop my head above water to draw breath. But these past two weeks, I have had a lot of time to sit and read and play guitar and contemplate. I find myself really longing to get back to the cake studio... and I realize the extent to which it is a haven of creation and creativity for me. This long vacation has given me the gift of a reminder, that I am doing the work that I love. My work IS my joy, it is my art, and it feeds me. It is by no means my only joy in life... after all, I do not define myself by my occupation. But it has been so beautiful to see, within myself, this growing excitement about the cakes I get to make, the sugar flowers I will get to sculpt and paint, the amazing couples I'll get to meet in consultations, and all of it, when I return to Seattle next month.

I came back to South Africa for a month to spend time with my parents and other beloved people in my life. This is a country I adore; while I no longer call it my home, it is still home to me in many ways. Throughout my childhood and teens, growing up here, South Africa was a sort of mirror for me. It still is. When Nelson Mandela became our president in 1994, it was a sort of babyhood, a period of enormous celebration and hope and love. And then the country went through a stunning identity crisis, a period of self-doubt, and some terrible growing pains... just as I was in the throes of my teenage years, experiencing the same. Now, I am an adult and can return to visit this place with a greater sense of objectivity. I feel great compassion and love, but I know that I am also keeping a sort of distance from this country. After all, I have two other homelands that occupy space in my heart: Germany, my beloved (and the country of my citizenship), and now the United States. I can see South Africa's fragility as a nation, even its decay... and I see the fear in people, that perhaps the great leadership that South Africa needs most is simply not there, or there is not enough of it. As a grown woman now, I am again looking in the mirror. The self-doubt of the teenage years is gone; there is greater self-assuredness and stability, but there is a sense that one has SO MUCH left to do before it is all "right"!

Meanwhile, Obama has been re-elected in the US (I heard the news soon after my plane touched down in Johannesburg), and my feeling was, and is, complete elation and relief. The tide has turned for the country I now call home. So many good things... and the first that springs to mind is that gay marriage is legal in Washington. This is a beautiful, glorious thing. I think that in a few decades from now, we humans will be ashamed of ourselves that we ever made such a fuss over something like the love between two human beings and how they choose to celebrate and share it with their families and communities.

See you all in December.

And yes, there will be cake photos on this blog again!