I hadn't realized that the chocolate tasting was in the imported-cheese shop under the apartment we lived in together for a couple of years. The cheese shop has since closed, and the owners have focused their efforts on artisinal chocolates.
The space has changed. It's empty - the gourmandish goodies that used to line the walls, the handsome Frenchman with the piano hands who was ever-so generous with the samples, the little bistro tables squished up against the panel windows, the constant crush of customers chatting about the quality of cream manufactured in Provence as opposed to Greece. The store's only real accessory is brand new - the smell of cocoa, round and rich, fills the place with a warmth that belies its starkness.
I used to take people here. It's silly that an empty cheese shop reminds me of everything that's changed, but I can't ignore its poignancy. Furthermore, there was a gentleman at the tasting who reminded me quite sharply of my granddad - The Incredible Self-Estranging Grandfather - and it gave me a scratchy feeling in my belly to watch this stranger interact with his environment in a way that was so familiar to my memory.
As I held my little plate on my lap, I had a few thoughts about memory. Memory, that snickering little thing that shapeshifts even as you record it.
And I relearned the meaning of bittersweet, laughing and playing and tasting wonderful, exotic things even as these thoughts boiled in the heavy iron bowl of my gut. We had chocolates made with French cream that was infused with the most surprising ingredients - basil and kumquat and even kalamata olive (shockingly scrumptious). All this was set to the accompaniment of the chocolatier's flambouyant Frenchness and the ladylike giddiness of his Korean wife, whose facility with chocolate-making exceeds her English language skills by a hundredfold.
Saturday, there was drumming class. Then there was girlish bonding at M Cafe, where the freshness, health, and stunning aesthetic beauty of the foodstuffs is mirrored perfectly in the clientele.
Then there was a lecture on Roman history at the Hammer museum - but wait! 'Cause it's Terry Jones who's doing the lecturing, and there's a lot of guffawing interspersed with the learning.
Sunday, there's a quickly earned sunburn on the Verdugo slopes. And, then, salsa class. See? I'm doing it! Sarah is amazing, slipping in some of the spinny-grindy moves she used to use in her club-dancer days. I'm excited about this, really and truly. Maybe it's the yoga, or my sheer determination, or my relatively newfound excitement to own this body - but I was thrilled to watch the afternoon light swirling through my skirt. And the bumpin'-ness of my hips as they rolled and popped. I can't wait to go back.
There's so much that I'd like to get into, here. To share with you. About the things that preoccupy me so much that I accidentally fill my little Echo with supreme gasoline when it's $3.75 per gallon, and type the wrong number into the microwave twice, then leave my green beans in there for an hour. About electrical storms and lightning. About the things I have lost, am about to lose, fear losing, and need to shake off.
But I'm not ready yet.