Sometimes the journey of life leads you down a path of undeniable triumph, sometimes it takes you to a place shrouded in shadows.
Like a Florida highway in the middle of the night, trying to get to a place that feels warm and the people aren’t untamable demons.
The older I get, I can’t help but think of the places I’ve been. Some of the things I’ve seen, people I’ve met. Like that same night along the side of highway 95 just outside of Jacksonville.
Watching the blue lights flash behind me, holding on to my steering wheel so tightly my nails are cutting into my skin. Using his baton, he taps on my window, which I’ve already halfway rolled down, so that’s unnecessary.
Several things run through my head as I pass him my I.D. I wasn’t speeding, my tags are legit and I’m alone.
“Do your best to avoid the police, just please try to always, just stay out of their way” was something my family told all of us growing up. It was understood at an early age to by any means avoid the police.
Which until this point, I’d always done.
“I’m gonna need you to get out,” he tells me. I ask what I’ve done, he tells me not to ask questions and to step out of the car. Which I do, very slowly. He walks me to the back of my car and has me stand there as he searches the confines of my mother’s borrowed ’93 Maxima.
At this point I start to cry, thinking of how dark it is and no one knowing where I am. As I stand there, I see a black truck pull over in front of my car, causing the officer to look up from the bullshit he was doing. Honestly, the biggest white man I’ve ever seen in my life gets out of the truck. He’s, at least, 6’4 with huge arms, just an imposing figure all around. This is surely a nightmare.
“Hey, you need some help” He ask the cop who pulled me over. But something about the way he says it seems off. The cop immediately walks over to me, throws my license on the ground at my feet and stalks off to his car. I’m so distraught at this point I don’t notice the man from the truck standing next to me, telling the other office to report in.
“You alright? He’s a jackass, we’ve had a few problems, so I’ thought I’d stop” He goes on to show me his badge, as he keeps telling me it’s gonna be alright. We probably stand there for an hour as he consoles me and helps me call my mom and the friend I’m on my way to visit.
“Hey, there’s a place right around the corner that serve food 24 hours, why don’t you go there and sit awhile”
I get back in my car and do exactly as he says, finding a local meat and three that’s serving breakfast. The woman smiles while placing a cup of coffee in front of me as I sit down. I don’t drink coffee, so I just sit there, staring at the dark liquid. The seat next to me cracks a little as my literal saving grace sits beside me. “I just wanted to make sure you made it ok” He smiles at me again and I can’t help but cry. “It’s gonna be ok. This place looks like shit, but we’re about to have to best damn Buttermilk Cake you’ll ever taste” he tells me.
And we did…. he sat with me until the sun came up. I just talked to him yesterday as I cried again while I typed this post, he’s now one of my closest friends. Over ten years have passed since that night and it still upsets me.
There are so many that didn’t have someone to stop and make sure everything was alright, I think of them every time I turn on the news. Every time I slice my fork into a warm slice of Buttermilk Cake, I think of that night on highway 95……
*This cake is simple but so delicious you can seriously eat the whole thing in one sitting. One thing to note, it likes to stick to the bottom of the pan. So if you don’t put down parchment, just be ready for a Hunger Games Battle of wills trying to get it out of that pan.
May the odds be forever in your favor*
3 cups cake flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
5 large eggs, room temp
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoon vanilla
Powdered Sugar for garnish- optional
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9 *13-inch baking pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (you can also use a hand mixer) mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. While running the mixer on low add in the cold butter, a few pieces at a time. Continue to beat mixture until the butter is incorporated. It will look almost like cookie dough. This is good but don’t eat it yet. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition and making sure to scrape down the edges with a spatula to incorporate all the ingredients. Increase mixer speed to medium. Slowly pour in the buttermilk and vanilla. Beat until well incorporated. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Garnish with powdered sugar..