Trouble started the day we realized my best baking sheet wouldn’t fit into the oven.
An old shop on the Denton Square, Country Kitchen City Cooks, carried the Doughmakers brand. I don’t remember which baking pan I bought first, but it impressed me. I collected a pizza pan, a sheet cake pan, round cake pans, a muffin tin and the extra-large cookie sheet.
Do your cakes come out uneven, or do some of your cookies get too dark while others on the pan barely brown? I used to blame the ingredients, or the mixing or my oven. Then I learned most of the blame belonged to the pans. Doughmakers are to baking what cast iron is to the stove-top.
That big sheet pan was so versatile. I could make the cake for a jelly roll or bakery-sized recipes for pecan bars or brownies when the kids were little and had hollow legs. These days, it’s been Sam’s go-to pan for kolaches. We still make bakery quantities of sausage-filled kolaches.
I tried to tell myself I was going to love the kitchen in the new house. It has a cook top! A double oven! A standing freezer! A wet bar!
The galley design would be more efficient, I told myself. Fewer steps around the workspace. Don’t worry that you don’t have a second pantry. You’re not that hot of a cook, I reminded myself. Don’t worry that the dining room furniture now hides a mountain of seasonal kitchen gear. No one will know that you filled the big hutch with cookie cutters and the little hutch with processing equipment. Use the breakfast table when you need more workspace, I coached myself.
The afternoon Sam couldn’t get a batch of kolaches in the oven because it was too small for the cookie sheet, I had to admit it.
I had my dream kitchen. And I sold it.
Mark and I studied a lot of house plans before choosing the house we built nearly 20 years ago. Dog trot to help keep the house cool, big farm kitchen, wrap-around porch for Sam to pace when he was little, and an interior bathroom.
(People who live in tornado alley understand that last requirement.)
After I sold it, I made sure I could still check some of those boxes at the new house: interior bathroom, apartment for Sam (who paces a little differently now), a covered front porch, big trees on the west side of the house to help stay cool (I have yet to run the air conditioning this year.)
I’ve even figured out how to make up for the loss of a farmhouse garden, but it will take a few years of (enjoyable) work to terrace the back of the property and amend the soil.
But the kitchen. It’s a net loss. Even my son, Michael, notices its shortcomings on his brief visits.
I was in Argyle earlier this week. I didn’t go by the farm. But I couldn’t avoid its reach. I saw enough and felt enough and remembered enough and imagined enough that regret snuck in.
One of the Denton City Council members often tries to steer deliberations with an axiom he says he got from his father, “Let the reason be the reason.”
I listen even more carefully when he calls for it. It’s an elegant way to describe intellectual honesty, and to push for the more robust discussions that often come afterward. (Although, a person has to be careful. Oftentimes there is more than one reason. And you might need to be skeptical of your skepticism if you are thinking someone isn’t stating their reason.) When the regrets and the second-guessing come, I remind myself that I sold the farm for good reasons.
I need to let the reasons be the reasons.
I remind myself that we used to regret and second-guess our decision to leave California. And New York. And then we remembered what was important to us and we try to gather up those quality-of-life makers in order to keep moving forward. Very few of those things are truly tied to one place.
I don’t know what it will take with this stupid kitchen, but I really need to like it.
Sam and I are still building our new lives here in the central city. Yesterday, he bought a bicycle. It was fun watching him in the bike shop. He hadn’t been on a bicycle in more than 10 years.
He hopped on and pedaled away. Time hadn’t worn away anything at all.