June 3, 2006

Welcome home

Yesterday during my lunch hour, I made a stop at Aki’s Bakery to pick up a birthday cake. I didn’t choose this one though.

When I walked through the bakery door, I was immediately overcome by the sweet aromas of cakes, cookies, pies, and pastries. There was a line. So I would have to wait. And endure the scents that surrounded me. And try not to drool all over myself. I hadn’t had lunch yet.

The lady in front of me was anxious. Not in a disgruntled “hurry-up-and-move-this-line-along” kind of way, but in an anticipatory, practically dancing-around-the-bakery knid of way.

At last it was her turn.

B: What can I get you?
Giddy customer: I’d like one of your guava cakes, please (giggle).

Guava cake might sound odd to you if you haven’t tried it, but trust me. It is incredible. The cake is pink, the icing is light pink, the filling and top of the cake are made of a guava jelly-like substance. This is the bakery’s signature cake.

B: Would you like me to write something on it?
GC: (giggle) Would you write “welcome home” please? (turns around and looks at me, giggling)
B: Sure. Do you want a special color?
GC: (turns to look at me again, giggling) Can you do three colors? Red, white and blue?
B: Absolutely. Be right back.
GC: He’s coming home from Iraq. (bounce, bounce, giggle)
Me: (Giant lump in throat. Can’t muster any sort of congratulatory remark that conveys my overwhelming happiness about this event except) Wow!
GC: Yeah! (giggle giggle)

Suddenly I didn’t mind spending one-third of my lunch in a bakery line. This woman’s pure elation was infectious. I imagined the homecoming and wondered if the soldier’s favorite cake was Aki’s famous pink concoction. I imagined how delicious that first bite would be for them. Not because the cake is simply scrumptious, but because they would be enjoying it with loved ones. On American soil. Home at last.

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