King Cake: A Humble Story of Food and Reminders

Every once in a while, a moment happens that reminds me that I am still in touch with the universe. Sure, go ahead throw me on to the hippie bus now, or whatever you want to do. But things happen, and I try to stay attune to them. They used to happen a lot more and lately I’ve felt shunned from the powers at be. Not really, but I just haven’t felt that “touch” of magic that life brings with it on special occasions.

Until today. Sure, I’m looking into things. Sure, I’m connecting things that shouldn’t really be connected. Blah, blah, blah, fine. I know. But as promised I blog about the thrills I come across. And call me crazy or delusional, but for whatever reason, in my mind, the magic meter went off and I was stuck telling myself, “there are no coincidences, pay attention, Sarah.”

Okay, I’ll go already.

My grandmother passed away in January. I was close to her. She and my aunt, who passed away suddenly two years ago, used to have a way of looking at life that was just hilarious. They are the last, besides my cousin and mom, part of my mom’s family. To my aunt and my grandmother, everything was funny and fixable. They would say things like, “Be lazy,” or “It’s nap-thirty.” Coming from the woods of Louisiana, you can only imagine. They were each civilized women with a backwoods past. Let’s say they kept their southern charm with them, always. I mean that endearing, btw.

Anyways, I miss them. And, coincidentally enough I had a dream about them last weekend. My aunt was on Friday night, and my grandmother on Saturday night. Basically not to make a big deal of it I saw my aunt as an angel. I know, who believes in angels? I don’t know. And truly she just was glowing, so I don’t know… maybe my brain was just getting creative in my sleep. For all I knew she just came out of a Chernobyl pool. But from where I saw things, she looked glowy, and beautiful.

Saturday, I saw my grandmother. She was haunting me actually — in a good way, okay. I would fall asleep and hear her, and then wake up and look around, and fall asleep and hear her again. It was truly bizarre and so frustrating. In one of my dreams actually, I asked, “Nanna is that you?” and she replied, “you guessed it right!” She was full of energy and truly bouncing all around — I felt like she was playing a game of Rumpelstiltskin . So I am like, “where are you?” and she says, “guess.” And I say, “Are you in the chair?” Because there is this looming chair right by the bed that is the size / shape of a person in the dark and terrifies me if I look at it in the middle of the night in the wrong light. And in my dream I heard her laugh and make an inappropriate joke that only she could come up with, “Now, why would I be in the chair when I could be in the bed next to you two, snuggling with you guys?” Annnnd, there you have it. I was in fact sleeping in my boyfriend’s bed and in my dream, my grandmother was aware of it and giving me shit for it. I woke up, looked over to the space next to me (opposite of the boyfriend), and, of course, no one was there.

Needless to say I was somewhat terrified. I wanted to laugh and like, sit in the closet and hide for 10 hours all at the same time. I felt her presence so strongly. I didn’t get much sleep for two nights after that. Nanna… she’s always been mischievous.

Well, the week that followed was hell. Okay, not really. I became disappointed with many aspects of my life. I had to face things that I didn’t really know were coming to a head. I can’t believe how some elements of my life have unfolded. I looked at lost friendships, angry people, my finances, a few other things that were just troubling or disappointing — and believe you-me, I know many of them usually are a result of, well, me or my own actions. At one point I prayed for something to give a little. I needed some grace from the negative energy I was wrapped up in. I needed a break from things making me sad. Because normally, I’m very happy.

I was at my boyfriend’s all week because my roommate was sick and since my roommate and I share a room it was a valid health measure. And, luckily, the boyfriend makes me happy even when I’m sad. When he can tell something is wrong he won’t stop hugging me unless I cry. I spent almost three years of my life not shedding a tear. I was angry and refused to acknowledge emotions. So now there is like a bank of tears and I have no problem letting them out. Now, I cry at the drop of a hat, and I let myself. I’m actually a strong individual, so it took a lot for me to let that go. Anyways, now if my boyfriend knows I am sad, and he gives me a hug and I don’t cry… he knows something is really wrong and that I want to cry, so he gives an extra squeeze and I fight it and then just release it. Haha I guess, in its own way, it’s its own kind of therapy. After tears, I’m pretty quick at recovery.

Anyways, so I’m like sulking, clearly. I haven’t seen the sun in like months. It’s freezing in New York, still. I started my period. I’m out of money.  I’m dealing with issues on most fronts. And I go to work, pretty much just waiting for something to put me in a good mood. Like, anything.

If you need to know one thing about me, know that people make me very happy. All kinds of people, but particularly nice people.

So I go to make my new favorite lunch, an egg sandwich. It’s mayo, an egg, and low-fat wheat bread. I know, horrible. But I love it, my grandfather used to eat mayo and bread, and now my mom does it, and now I do it. It was a New Orleans thing I am told.

I’m making my sandwich and my company’s Janitor/ Mr.Fix-it comes into the break room. He looks like he saw a ghost. He’s stunned. He starts telling me this story about how the woman who came to fix our hot water machine (… that was broken all week), was actually a relative of his. They found this out through conversation about the machine (not sure how that evolved though) that they are cousins. I’m like what? You met a long lost relative today? Dear God that is exciting. I look at him and wonder why he isn’t jumping up and down. And we discuss that for a while and then he gets into his family from New Orleans and it’s all very interesting and at some point I want to tell him I have roots there, but I don’t. Until he brings up my sandwich.

“Oh mayo and bread, huh?” And at first I am alarmed because I have been politely borrowing someone else’s mayo in the fridge all week. And so I thought the mayo was his and he all the sudden he was going to like go nutso on me and tell my boss and then I would be the girl who was fired over mayo. But no, he found it amusing and told me he loves mayo and bread, and that his family has that tradition of eating mayo and bread, but he has never seen someone else like it. And so I tell him I actually have roots in NOLA too and he laughs and we talk about it for a bit and go our separate ways. I tell him I am thrilled he met his cousin today, because I am for whatever reason. I thought it was cool, and for a few minutes I got to think and talk about my family from Louisiana. I miss them, and on occasions they haunt me, so NBD, but it’s fun to think about when they were here in real life and not haunting my dreams.

I leave, go to my desk and go grab tea in the secret break room only the marketing department can use. Much to my surprise I walk in and see that an anonymous person left a king cake and plates for everyone. If you don’t know what that is, you are not alone. It is a New Orleans tradition. But this king cake was just sitting there. Like, hey here is a king cake. “Here I am, your kiiing cake.” And I can hear someone from above say, “here’s you’r sign yah dipsh*t.”

The only king cakes I have seen in the last few years are the ones in NOLA ( while I was there for my grandmother’s funeral) and this one in my office, in New York, around people who don’t know what it is. It turns out it was sent to us by “a friend from the south.” I am sure this friend is a salesman or vendor. But I found it odd two different events in a total of about 10 minutes would tie me back to my roots so quickly. I looked up and wondered if my aunt and grandmother were sitting there on their clouds or what not, looking down and laughing about how freaked out my face looked when I walked into the secret break room. I know they are sitting there telling me to lighten up. So, I will.

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