Sunday, December 14, 2008


I've had the loveliest time writing out my holiday cards. I know maybe "when I'm older" they will seem more like a chore, but I was quite sad when they came to an end.

It helped, of course, that I wrote them out in one of my favorite spots in the city: Hello Cupcake. Hello Cupcake would happily become my third place if it weren't so hazardous to my waistline. I spent the entire afternoon there, writing and sipping coffee and (when I was done writing) reading the Annotated Pride and Prejudice and slowly but surely eating two of the most delicious cupcakes: one lemon-flavored and one rum raisin (with actual rum).

The thing I love about Hello Cupcake is that everyone in there is happy. Starbucks and Au Bon Pain and Cosi and all those other corporate-style joints always have that rushed feel; everyone's impatient, looking at their watches, screaming out the names of the coffees or banging furiously on their laptops.

At Hello Cupcake, everything moves slowly. First because there are rows and rows of cupcakes on display, cupcakes in flavors unpredicted and unimaginable and all with piquant, mysterious names ("the Lucy") which means that the first thing anyone does when walking into the cupcake shop is stop and stare at all the cupcakes and then, slowly, start asking the people behind the counter: what's this one? what's that one? No one makes decisions quickly, not when there are so many choices; and then finally a cupcake (or two) is selected and taken to a table or (if you're lucky) a seat by the window and peeled so very very slowly and admired, for a moment and then finally, the first bite.

It's difficult to be anything but happy when eating a Hello Cupcake.

(But I digress.)

So the first round of Christmas cards was easy: relatives, an old roommate, people who had written me recommendation letters. (With the latter, it was another way of saying thank you for everything, the job you helped me get has made me so happy...)

Then the second round, and I found myself writing to people I hadn't seen in over a year; people I had met while I was in India.

When I realized it had been over a year since I had last written to, say, the person who helped me get the teaching stint in Hyderabad, I felt a little guilty. I know it isn't exactly the sort of relationship where one is in constant contact, but this person helped me have a transformative experience and I believe the last time I wrote him was... last Christmas.

The thing is it doesn't feel like it was more than a year. It feels like a million years since I left graduate school, but no time at all since I left India. I wonder if it is because I had so much school and only one trip. Maybe I put the memories in a different part of my brain; one that keeps things a little sharper.

I don't know if the cards will ever get to India (I tend to distrust international mail), but it was fun to write them and to ask questions like "did you ever get your apartment? did the food get any better? did such-and-such ever find the love of his life?" even though I know the questions will never be answered.

And when I got to the end and had no more people to whom to write, it was a bit disappointing. I suppose there's always next year. ^__^ And when you go to the DC area, do make sure to spend some happy happy time in Hello Cupcake.

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