Hamburger Cayenne Cake

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If one likes hamburgers and also likes cayenne pepper and also likes chocolate this does not mean that you should put those ingredients together into say - a cake.

I can speak from experience that one should never eat chocolate cake and cucumber at the same time. They are flavours that I love separately but together they are wretched.

Sometimes it seems that couples come together and make cakes (marriages) with no guidance, without any knowledge of what it means to make a "cake".

"I like you! And you like me! You have ingredients that I like! Let's put them together!"

They've seen cakes. They've watched them being made. It looks easy.

And they end up with Hamburger Cayenne Cake. And then are told that that is what they get to eat for the rest of their lives.

(If you are assuming that I am the cayenne pepper you would be right.)


K____ and I made a very odd looking cake. And a wretched tasting one to boot. We did, however, manage to make a darling cupcake in the form of Phoenix who came out all butterscotch and toffee, warm and lovely, with a scattering of nuts.

I was terrible to K____. My realization of the mistake of my marriage had been softened by the birth of Phoenix but it reared its ugly head once his babyhood changed to toddlerhood. I won't go into all the things that K___ did and didn't do because, in the end, it was I that ultimately couldn't keep eating...well...the cake.

If there are any fingers to be pointed in all of it, I point them at myself. I was cruel and heartless and disrespectful and manipulative and careless with K___. I castrated him with my words and I did not love him the way that I should have.

But I couldn't see that then. I was like a caged animal, a lioness, and I was dangerous. To myself. To others. I said and did things that make me cringe now at the thought of it.

I became depressed and angry and shut down. I knew all of the Bible verses, I knew all of the "but you need to's..."

And, like you all know, I pulled the plug.  In K___'s story I am the bad guy.  In a lot of peoples story I am the bad guy.

Why am I sharing this part of the story? Because I want you to know that despite the romantic love story that Zack and I had, and, thank God, still have, that I wasn't blameless. I know you know that. It's just...there are stories behind stories under other stories. And sometimes I wonder why everyone tries so damn hard to make it simpler than it can ever be. We all want to say,

"This part goes here. And that part goes there."

Sometimes they do. Sometimes they don't. It's when they don't that we all need each other the most. Unfortunately that's when most of us give up. We spray that, "I'll Be Praying For You" air freshener towards the ginormous pile of shit in front of us and hightail it out of there.

I've done that more times than I care to admit.

Does this make any sense? I'm just typing out loud here.

Just...think about what was in their cake. Okay?

(off of my soapbox now...back to the story...)


The night that Zack took me out on that date is etched into my memory. What he wore, the way he smelled, the wine we drank.

When he said,

"Begin transmission," the hairs on my neck stood up, (the way they so often do around him) and I felt the hugest sense of peace and joy.



These are things I highly recommend.

The months after that are a blur. We were together. It's sappily indescribable how wonderful it was to just be with the man I loved. Jeepers. Nauseating, isn't it?

Zack's brother, Chris, and sister-in-law Andrea, recommended a counselor for us to see,

"Because, after all," Andrea said, "If you can drop off some baggage the size of a refrigerator before jumping back into marriage again that's something you ought to look into."

So we did for a while, driving 40 minutes to see a guy that Zack and I both liked and respected. He pointed out stuff. We cringed. We dropped off suitcases and trunks and whole rooms.

During this time I was recording the album Songs To Sail By. All of the songs that I had written during that tumultuous saga of ours were being put down for posterity, recording them in closets and sometimes in the grand sanctuary of a Presbyterian church at 3 a.m. We planned the album release in June of 2008 and were talking of an October 2008 wedding.

And then I happened upon a little 4 bedroom, 2 bath house for rent in Decatur that was affordable and in the right school district and immediately called Zack. We loved it.

"Should I move in with the boys and then in October you and Phoenix move in? Or should you and Phoenix move in and then I'll move in with the boys?" Zack was standing in the backyard under a natural archway of trees and ivy.

"I don't know, I just know that we have to get this house. We just have to. It's too perfect."

I stepped into the archway with him. There were lightening bugs in the trees above our heads and mosquitos blanketing me. Zack reached for my hand.

"What if we don't get married in October? What if we get married now?"

I turned towards him, "What do you mean now?"

"Like, as soon as I get back from Denver now."

"At a courthouse?"


I kissed him.

"Let's do it!"

On July 21st, 2008 Zack and I, along with my sister, Erin, and our good friend Hassel Weems, met at the City of Decatur Courthouse and waited out in the hallway for the Magistrate Court to open. Hassel took pictures and Erin prayed for us and then our names were called. We stood in front of a judge with a voice like Barry White and very simply (but oh so not simply everything that had taken place to lead up to this not simply), me with my ingredients and Zack with his, we got married.

We made, in my humble opinion, something close to a Mexican Chocolate Cake.

We celebrated at the Brickstore Pub with some lunch and a couple Newcastle Brown Ales, bid farewell to Hassel and Erin and, in the most romantic way, went to the City of Decatur Watershed Management to apply to have our water turned on.

The next day, our first full day of being married, we went to the Apple store to buy ourselves wedding presents of an iPhone each.

"Happy We Are Married Finally Present!" I crowed as we each received our white box full of iPhone goodness. We hadn't yet figured out the whole SIM card thing, none of the numbers from our old phones had been transferred over yet and so, while waiting at a QuikTrip gas station for our gas tank to fill up, Zack's phone started ringing.

"Oooooh! My very first phone call on my new phone!"

"Who is it?"

"I dunno. I don't know anyone's number anymore!"

We kind of laughed as he answered the phone.


"Is this Zack Arias?"


"My name is P__.  I am calling to ask if you feel that your relationship with Meghan Coffee is valid?"

{to be continued...}

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