Running around my cluttered kitchen, with an oven preheating to sweltering temperatures, and a red kitchen aid whirring in the background, I double check the recipe. The recipe I have transformed into a batch of cupcakes so many times, I can not fathom a number. Despite how well the teaspoons of Madagascar bourbon vanilla are ingrained in my mind, it is crucial everything is absolutely perfect. I used to bake for pleasure, for stress relief, and even for my own gluttony. Now I bake for you. No matter the increasing list of tasks and homework I have, I will, in the morning, have perfected a batch of six cupcakes. Six cupcakes lined perfectly in a translucent plastic box with a spectrum of colored sprinkles dancing through frosting swirled in a decadent formation. I will have all this and a handmade card, ready to give you because I believe you deserve cupcakes on your birthday. Appreciation is thrown around without any thought like spare pennies. People claim they love each and every one of their “best friends forever” so frequently the meaning becomes hollow and the gravity of such strong words is lost. So maybe I refrain from being excessively chipper, or someone who guarantees positive mantras on demand. Life as of yet has shed a little light on what it is to truly appreciate and love friends, even strangers, who make me what I am. Sometime in the past year, when my tear ducts seemed to have a mind of their own, little could be done to comfort me. People would say they were sorry, or that they “loved” me, that things would soon look up. One friend however, someone who has remained a constant in my life, simply held me. She said no masked words, and she did not give me false reassurance. I can not describe the type of love friends give without language because it is more of a physical emotion rather than a mental one. I realize that even an essay can not fully convey my gratitude to her, nor to the friends she represents. I choose not to toss around an affectionate phrase every hour, but I do choose to, on a day that it seems perfectly normal, make you cupcakes. I take the time to make a mess of myself and conjure up a baked good from scratch simply to say that I appreciate all that my friends have done, and are doing for me.
You only have what you give. I have an ample amount of happiness and love because of the people in my life. Each time I hand someone a batch of cupcakes on their birthday, I gain a little more of something intangible. So every year, on the day you become a little older, a little younger at heart, a little more mature upstairs, or a little more content with life as it is, I will be somewhere, a little tired, but a little excited, waiting to hand you gratitude in the form of a typical birthday tradition.