Toward the end of October, I tend to start feeling restless.
The feeling probably has something to do with laziness, and a desire to escape the stress of midterm season and the work I have to do. Getting off campus—an activity that becomes more implausible as work accumulates into mountainous heaps—just doesn’t have the same freeing effect that it did when the semester began. No matter how many restaurants I visit, shops and museums I peruse, or how far I meander around the city streets, I cannot make myself forget the massive amounts of work waiting to welcome me with open arms upon my return to campus.
You could also probably trace my restlessness back to a very obvious answer: homesickness.
At this point in the semester, we’ve all been away from home long enough for the novelty of independence and adulthood to lose a bit of its shiny luster. Perhaps, if you’re like me, you, too, are beginning to miss the comforting buffer of your family—the reassuring presence provided by parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, not to mention dogs.
Or maybe you miss more of the physical comfort of living in a relatively stable and familiar environment, one where you can bundle up in sheets that have a certain fresh smell (a smell that you can never coax out of the dorm dryers that infuse everything with the faint smell of burned cotton). A place where you can navigate the rooms and hallways with your eyes closed, and can make a fairly educated guess as to who might be in a certain room at a certain time. As exciting and necessary as change is, when you have a lot of other things competing for your attention on a daily basis, you yearn to return to a place where changing the way you fluff the pillows on the couch can seem like a radical redefinition of the life you’ve been leading.
But by the end of October, you might have already given up on achieving this level of comfort any time soon. The end of November (or, for some of the poor souls among us, mid-December) seems impossibly distant as you open the textbook to begin reviewing for your next midterm, or create a blank Word document in order to begin tapping out your next paper—even though you only finished the last one an hour ago. You might sigh and resign yourself to a few more weeks of existing in a shifting and transient setting, which, as wonderful as it is, can’t exactly be called ‘home.’
Which is why I was shocked to find a small bakery nestled within the shops surrounding Star Market while on a quest to buy a birthday cake for one of my friends. The bakery in question—a small, windowed storefront with a neon OPEN sign written in happy cursive lettering—is Rosie’s Bakery. This name might not have the same effect on you that it did on me—in fact, I would be shocked if it did.
But Rosie’s Bakery is a name woven through the recipes of my childhood. Without a second of hesitation, I can picture the cookbook’s brightly colored cover emblazoned with Rosie’s Bakery in a looping cursive quite similar to the writing on the neon sign in its window. It is the cookbook (and bakery) from which the recipe for dense, fudgy brownies that are completely different from any other ones I’ve ever tasted originally came from.
The cover and inner pages of our Rosie’s Cookbook are wrinkled and stained from contact with melted butter and chocolate, and if you give the tome a good thump on the kitchen table, grains of sugar fall out from in between the pages. It is one of those objects that is truly synonymous with being home.
To be honest, it had never even occurred to me that Rosie’s Bakery actually had a physical location—the name had always been something more mythic, like the lost land of Atlantis or the fabled City of Gold. Yet here it was right in front of me, filled with gigantic and chewy peanut butter cookies, towering cakes covered in a smooth and airy buttercream icing (yes, they were perfect for a birthday), and most importantly, heaps of glistening brownies displayed just behind a gleaming glass case.
When I finally got my hands on one of those brownies, I closed my eyes and took a tiny bite of the chewy corner. I savored the taste of dark chocolate that washed over my tastebuds. And for a second, while I was distracted by a flavor so familiar, I was home.
I guess November is still far away, but in the meantime, Rosie’s Bakery is pretty close.
Featured Image by Kelsey McGee / Heights Editor