Essays on memoir, music, and more from Beatrice M. Hogg

Letting Go of the Bundt Pan

I held onto it for a long time before putting it in the box of things to take to Goodwill. I ran my fingers along its ridges and watched the light reflect off its silver surface. What was wrong with me? It was only a friggin’ Bundt pan! I hadn’t made a cake in it in years. It was one of those things that took up space in my kitchen cabinet, gathering dust. But now, I didn’t have a kitchen cabinet, or even a kitchen. I was homeless. What did I need with several boxes of pots, pans, baking dishes, cupcake pans and assorted sundry that I hadn’t used since Clinton was president? For the last six months, I had been scraping together seventy dollars a month or asking others to pay my storage rent, even while I was sleeping in a dirty cot at a crowded LA emergency shelter.

But the Bundt pan was different. It meant parties, special events, good times – I had made rum cakes in that pan. And nothing says party like a good ol’  homemade rum cake. Giving up that pan made me feel like I was giving up on life. Would I ever have a party again, or be invited to a potluck, or have any reason to make a cake again? It was silly, I know, as Bundt pans aren’t that expensive. Once I got back on my feet again, I could walk into any store and buy a new Bundt pan. But I felt sad anyway.

I looked at the boxes of belongings in the narrow storage unit – the effluvia of a life of mindless purchases, a large book collection, and more tee shirts than any one woman had a need for even in the best of times. Why was it so hard to part with my stuff? I had already done it several times before – when I sold my childhood home in Pennsylvania in 1984 and when I moved from Pennsylvania to California in 1988. But as I got older, it became harder. Maybe mentally I was already on my way to becoming an elderly hoarder, a little old lady who would be found dead one day, buried under a mound of old newspapers in a tiny apartment. That is, if I ever got an apartment again.

But that stuff was all I had. It was part of my identity. Over the years, I had become infamous for my excess – in the eighties, I wore a different rock star button on my lapel every day, in the nineties, it was a different purse and shoes every day. Later, I was known for my large library, consisting of books that I would never find the time to re-read, but didn’t want to lend out. Of course, some things, like the diaries from 1970 to 2009, photos, and that jar of buttons, were irreplaceable, but almost everything else could be replaced or wouldn’t even be missed. “More is more” had always been my motto – except when it came to my bank balance. Which was why I was sifting through boxes, trying to downsize without throwing away anything that I was really attached to. Which was why I was living temporarily in a friend’s spare bedroom and my cat was in a foster home.

I went through a box of ceramic cups. How many cups did a single woman need? There was the souvenir cup from San Francisco that I got when I first moved to California in 1988. There were two leopard print cups, the commemorative cup that was under my seat when I received my MFA degree, the cup my friend got at Harrods in London about ten years ago, a cup I bought in London in the late eighties, not to mention the treasured tan cup that had been the bearer of morning refreshment for my mother, who died in 1970. I never used the San Fran cup any more, so it was ready for a new home. A few cups randomly picked at thrift stores could be recycled. But I kept my alma mater cup, the London cups, a set of four matching cups, and about four other cups that had been gifts. The box was getting full.

I put the Bundt pan on top and closed the box for its trip to Goodwill. I could see a glint of silver peeking out from the small hole on the top. I sighed and picked up the box. I didn’t even like to bake…

(As I wrote those last words, I heard an ad on the radio for Bundt cakes – must be a sign! Photo from How could I resist a website that said “Fear the Pig”?!)


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