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day 25: the day i silenced the talking chocolate bar

February 26, 2011

On Day 25, I met a friend for lunch at Market, a tiny gem of a restaurant in the Mordecai section of Raleigh.  She and I caught up over vegan shepherd’s pie and truffle oil french fries (hard evidence that vegetarian food can be both inventive and caloric), sharing updates about work and home.

To the casual observer, my friend appears to be the conscientious researcher and mother of two she is.  Redheaded and serene, she’s a voracious reader and a thoughtful friend.

To those who know her, she’s so much more.  Conversations with her frequently include such surprises as, “when I was backstage with Public Enemy the night of the Oakland fires…” or “when I lived in that tent for three months…”

Um, what???

Suffice it to say, she is multidimensional.  In addition to just liking her, I can’t resist a good back story.  While I only know snippets of hers, spending time with her is a wonderful adventure.

Next door to Market lives Escazu Artisan Chocolates.  Walk inside, breathe in the aroma, and you will be transported to Chocolatetown.  Chocolateville.  Chocolate heaven.  It is what’s called a “bean to bar” shop, meaning they handcraft their beautiful chocolates from cacao bean to chocolate bar to confection.  It is a must-visit.

My friend and I each got a small chocolate (pomegranate truffle for her, coffee truffle for me) and I forced myself not to wolf it down in one bite.  It was glorious.  I then realized that one of Escazu’s handmade, additive-free, dark chocolate bars would be the perfect gift for my children’s babysitter, Barbara.

Barbara has been caring for my children for three years while I work part-time.  She is an environmentalist, a dancer, and a massage therapist who sees clients in the evenings after caring for my children all day.  She is fifteen years older than I am and has twice my energy.  And she doesn’t even drink coffee.

While I don’t know her back story in its entirety, I know she was crunchy when crunchy wasn’t cool.

I’ve always found it challenging to buy gifts for Barbara.  Because she is so committed to environmental causes, I hesitate to buy something for her that she may see as useless or landfill-clogging.  She avoids lots of foods, so I hesitate to give her something consumable.

She does, however, love dark chocolate.  Escazu’s super-natural bar seemed a perfect gift for her, so I gingerly put it in my purse as I said goodbye to my friend (who had bumped into a guy she knew 25 years ago when she was touring with the Grateful Dead).

I cannot tell a lie:  over the course of the afternoon, as I sat mindlessly entering data into my computer, that Escazu bar called my name.  “Just try a little square,” it beckoned, “you can always go back and get Barbara another bar…”

I was tempted, but — either because I knew I wouldn’t soon be back in Escazu’s neighborhood or because I knew I would be writing about this I silenced the beckoning bar and drove home. 

I arrived to find my children ebullient and paint-splattered, thrilled to show me the art projects they had made with Barbara.  My gift of chocolate was met with a whoop of genuine joy from Barbara, who thanked me as she rushed off to meet her first massage client of the evening.  Her reaction was so much more gratifying than the thirteen seconds of happiness that chocolate bar would have brought me.

I hope your day is full of fascinating people and something handmade.  Thanks, as always, for showing up.

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