Love Like Chocolate

9.10.09

My ever-patient, best childhood friend picked me up from the train…again. And as we drove past Barley’s house to find a parking spot, I knew he’d be there–I could see into the screen door. Moments before visits like these, there’s a certain feeling that takes hold of my stomach. Kind of like anxious butterflies. Not like the first-day-of-school butterflies I had this week, but more like the fluttering anticipation of bittersweetness. Days spent with Barley are a melt-in-your-mind experience, followed by the bitter aftertaste of separation. It’s really no wonder I love chocolate; I love just like chocolate.

Upon greeting, Barley closes his eyes as I hug him and I can’t help but wonder when the last time he had one was. A real, no frills, I-love-you hug. Not one of those nice-to-see-you, pity hugs. He knew I was planning to come sometime soon–I wrote it in my last postcard–but he is always pleasantly surprised to see his youngest, just like any other Dad.

There’s hardly time or space to paint a complete portrait of the day, but here are a few bittersweet things I learned about Barley during my visit:

1) Barley has a drawer (with my name on it) which houses all of the mail I send him, or anything that makes him think of me, really. From my college football team’s scores (dating back to my years there) to magazine mastheads bearing my name.

2) Barley now keeps a key (with my name on it) in a secret hiding spot just for me. (He also kept the note I left in the mailbox the last time I couldn’t get in, right next to an old Christmas present that I gave him. He has since rewrapped it in the same paper and labeled its contents for safekeeping.)

3) Barley’s oven broke awhile back and although it was fixed, he hasn’t really baked since. He’s going to test it out before my next visit, so that we can start baking together. (Likely something with dark chocolate.)

A prized card and wrapper from chocolate I once sent to Barley, and a comic strip that made him think of me.

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