Yesterday I placed a piece of dark chocolate in my mouth, and its smooth sweetness transported me, in memory, to a secret middle-of-the-night adventure.
I am back in my parents’ kitchen in the early 1960’s, and the smell of warm chocolate melting as I stand over the stove nearly makes me swoon. My sister and I consult our recipe for chocolate fudge, step by delicious step, while our parents slumber upstairs, unaware.
My sister and chocolate – two of my very favorite things in life. Growing up, my sister, with her darker olive skin, looked more the part of our half-Italian heritage than I did. She tanned so thoroughly that, one summer, the elderly woman who lived across the street hollered her question from her front porch: “Who is that little black child?” My sister – like chocolate.
She and I sometimes melt together in rolling-on-the-floor laughter, tears streaming down our faces. A little word or phrase from one or the other can send us both into several minutes of non-stop hilarity.
Laughter, chocolate, my sister and me; our mutual love of chocolate glues our spirits together as we creep down the midnight stairs, avoiding the creakiest steps lest they alert the parents to our secret rendezvous. When we reach the kitchen, we gather our ingredients as silently as possible and fire up the stove. We fear the parents will surely hear us whenever our suppressed giggles erupt into out-loud laughter.
We check the dark, gooey substance for the exact moment when it has cooled enough to eat. Now! We partake of our sensuous feast. The delight of putting one-over on our parents increases the enjoyment of our tryst with this dark lover. So that the parents don’t discover our secret and spoil our fun by forbidding it, we carefully clean up the evidence of our deed.
What if they know? Maybe the unmistakable smell of melting chocolate wafts to their nostrils in the dark of night. Maybe they lie in bed, smiling at memories of similar past secret indulgences in their childhoods. Did Dad sneak tastes of Grandpa’s whiskey? Would Mom and Aunt Jean creep out to ride the farm horse in the middle of the night?
These days, my sister and I have to travel across the country to spend time with each other. Chocolate travels from the grocery store to our kitchens to spend time with us. Each day I break off a piece and savor it, just as my sister and I break off pieces of time on many days to enjoy a phone call.
My sister, chocolate and me – the three of us in memory as far back as I can remember. Best friends forever, my sister and I will savor chocolate – together or apart – as long as we both can move hand to mouth.
The beauty of your memories lies in your ability to conjure up the emotions and the fun of times like these. Take the time to treasure such moments, and allow them to bring their joy into your present existence.