Cool on Warm and Chocolate

I am pretty good at keeping my chin up, but this week took it out of me, a slow slide from pretty good on Monday to Thursday night’s thumping of my forehead on the dark, grainy wood of the bar where I sometimes work.

It’s been discouraging.

To calm myself, I remind myself of what I know to be true, not by blind faith so much as proven experience: I am not all that important, in the grand scheme of things, but I’m more important than a lily, and in the end it will all come right.

When I draw a deep enough breath to gather my wits about me, I pay my bill, pack my things, and go to a friend’s house nearby, where all our families are meeting us for dinner. We eat pasta and meatballs and salad, and the kids crawl all over us.

Then we eat chocolate cake, because it is almost the third birthday of one of our number, a spitfire of a kid who has her own designated app on my phone and is always taking selfies I discover later.

Chocolate cake: not a thing I ate, ever, growing up—I was a kale-and-almond-milk-raised child—and not a thing I think of much. But today I ate it with a scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream. Which is the right way to eat it. The ice cream is cold, by temperature, and cool, by flavor; cake is rich and spongy and also creamy, and when it settles on the tongue the effect is something like putting a snowball up against a flushed cheek, or diving into the pool right after a run.

That run, that flush, is what I feel after a weary day in a weary week, nestled into my corner of a weary world. The future is always uncertain, but sometimes we trick ourselves into thinking it is not. The race is long, and tiring, and sometimes I get a little too warm trying to outrun whatever’s comng. But a sweet piece of cake with a scoop of ice cream celebrating that a little girl is turning three can help make things, at least briefly, a little better.