The Box of Chocolates
Milk Chocolate Hazelnut: Creamy hazelnut praline, covered in two layers of milk chocolate of different cacao compositions, and topped with crunchy hazelnut
Again and again,
Never was there a worry,
With you, under stars.
As we glanced past now,
I stared at your chocolate eyes,
This time dark, not milk.
Orange and White Chocolate: Smooth and creamy white chocolate filling infused with orange liqueur and coated in white chocolate with tangy orange shavings
I do not remember if it was raining or if I was just sobbing so much that it felt like a heavy thunderstorm. I called Cal from the school parking lot and began furiously explaining why my life and future as we knew it were over. As I sped to her house, I couldn’t help but feel my heart melting into the cracks of the concrete. Pulling into her driveway, I thought, “I might be staying here for a while, because how could I ever face my parents?” I walked into Cal’s open arms and soon collapsed on her couch.
In between sobs, I said, “I feel like everything I’ve done in the past three years was for nothing. I ruined everything, and nothing has ever hurt so bad.”
Cal rolled her eyes affectionately, “If anyone could recover from something like this, it would be you.”
Maybe I didn’t know it back then, but she was always right about me.
Espresso and Dark Chocolate: Rich, lasting, 80 percent cacao chocolate center with notes of dark espresso and covered in cacao powder
“Mom, the point of staying on the beach is to actually go to the beach.”
“I am almost done. I just have 15 messages, 20 signatures and a few prescriptions to send out.”
“Fine, we’re just going to go now and meet you outside. Also, merry Christmas to you too!”
I really didn’t intend to be rude to my mom all the time. Growing up, I often thought my mom’s hobbies were working, yelling at me for not being perfect and working. I thought back to a memory of when I was nine.
“Mom, mom, mom, listen to me.”
“What do you need?”
“What are you doing? What is that chart? Is that their heartbeat?”
“I’m doing this for you.”
“But — I’m not even your patient.”
Fighting with my mom and for my mom’s attention were among my favorite childhood hobbies. When I think about the various sporting, school and life events my mom missed because she was working, I think about this moment. Even though she was self-employed by name, she was employed in her mind by the thought of my brother’s and my looming, expensive futures.
Milk Chocolate Caramel: light caramel mixed with a sprinkle of sea salt, and coated in homemade milk chocolate
“Friend group” is an inherently unfriendly concept to me. I have always had scattered best friends with different friends and interests who occasionally interact, probably because of me. I have a term for this: best friend-in-laws.
Episode I of “Best Friend-in-Laws: Worlds Collide.” In a minivan, a group of best friend-in-laws and I embarked on a road trip to surprise my brother for his birthday. The plan of action: meet up with a friend from school for dinner, buy cake and decorations, set up his apartment with his friends and set him up for the surprise. This trip was planned in less than 24 hours before execution.
My friends from home have known me for eternity; some of us had gone to school together since kindergarten. The reconciling of the here and now with the then and there is something I have struggled with. Coming to school far from home and far from my closest friends seemed to deepen the cracks I couldn’t fill myself. We were meeting my friend Zeke from Georgetown for dinner. We had a few classes together, we had few friends in common and we happened not to live far apart.
At one point during the night, Zeke was dancing fearlessly with one of my friends in the living room as if we all had grown up together. He is the kind of sunshine that streams through the cracks and brightens a room. Each best friend-in-law — despite loud and somewhat disagreeable personalities — instantly loved him.
On the car ride home, one of them told me, “He is going to end up being your best friend.” They were right. When misfits come together for an adventure, we often find what we did not know we were missing.
Mystery Chocolate: That one chocolate that you can’t seem to match to any of the descriptions on the box
“I love you.”
Despite everything about our platonic summer of sweet nothings, I left the city for a month. I knew that, true to your character, I probably would never see you again. That was probably for the best, honestly. If I did, I would not have words to say about the relationship that we did not have. While I was away, I sometimes thought about what you were doing: You’d be in some smoky bar with a beautiful woman you’d just met draped on your arm, making everyone around you laugh. I knew forgetting about you was the best thing that I could ever do.
Except here we were, on what started to be a perfectly normal Friday night. We were on the rooftop babbling about everything since that summer. Something intangible about the way you talked made me realize that you avoided being close to people in general — not just me. You quickly spilled details about your life, from your complicated childhood to your deep-seated insecurities. At the same time, your sudden openness did not make me feel special. I knew that you were just having fun, and this was the way we would always be.
Somewhere between the topics of your parents and your fears of the future, you froze midsentence. You kissed my cheek and said, “I love you.”