Strawberry Upside Down Cake & Old Friends

Jun 20, 2011

The email arrives as these things do, out of the blue for the one on the receiving end.  I read, try and take it in.

Our friendship breakup eight years ago was a source of pain and, moreover, left me confounded. Yes, I’d known we were flailing, growing apart – me with kids, she on the verge of marriage, still unburdened by kids but burdened by debt we’d just shrugged off, both of us unable to communicate the problems despite having been close friends since we were sophomores in high school (which now qualifies as way, way back).

I’m sorry, the email said.

And so we met for dinner.  I had blamed myself – what I had done to make her stop calling?  All these years and she said, “Nothing.  You did nothing.” She wasn’t hoping for some magical reunion, just to put out into the universe that she had regrets, that she was really sorry.

Perhaps the instinct is to feel anger – why would you want to be in touch?  Hurt her back.  Don’t respond.  My instinct was to call right away.  Since parting ways she has become a mom to three kids, moved away and back again, understands much more of what I was going through when my husband was never around and I was…lonely.  Did I put pressure on the friendship?  Stop being so fun?  Probably.  I admitted that to her.  Had she blamed me for not wanting to go out at night or schlep the toddlers around to late dinners after Adam had been working 90 hour weeks?  Yes.  Had she lacked the maturity to talk instead of bolting?  Yes, and she admitted that, too.

But I put that aside.  Slowly, we are getting to know each other in the present tense.  She’d come to realize that old friends are incredibly valuable.  I’d gained perspective.  If there’s anything I’ve learned this year, it is to be open, to accept, to move not past, but through.  You can’t manufacture old friends.  There is baggage, but comfort and shared history.  What would you have done? Have you reunited with an old friend?

Yesterday, we took ourselves and our kids to yoga.  It’s an activity we’ve never shared.  The teacher said, “Sometimes we pigeon-hole each other.  We need to give other the freedom to be who we are, not just who we want them to be.” We both nodded.

Strawberry Upside Down Cake

I had spelt flour and sorghum flour sitting in my pantry and felt like a bit of protein and sweetness, so I used them. Feel free to use wheat or white.

1 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 cup butter

1 quart strawberries, rinsed and drained, end trimmed, cut in half

1 Cup spelt flour

1 cup sorghum flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

2 eggs

Oven to 350. Melt butter and dissolve sugar into it, stirring with a whisk. Spray baking dish and pour butter/sugar into it. Arrange cut strawberries, cut-side up. Mix everything else and scatter on top of strawberries. Bake for about 30-40 minutes until top is lightly browned and strawberry syrup is bubbling around the edges. Let cool for at least 15 minutes. Invert onto platter and serve alone or with ice cream to old friends.