Thursday, October 22, 2009
Rose Flavored Candies
We had dashed back from our first date alone since Lily was born-- a fancy French restaurant where the waiters actually have accents, appetizers and deserts and glasses of wine-- to a sobbing baby, two anxious grandparents, and a hyper two-year old. We gave the babies baths, hardly noticing the chaos because we were still joyful from our time together. An hour later, both babies asleep, the house that odd silence that comes at the end of a full day. We decided to pay Scrabble, I insisted that I start first since he always gets the better letter.
He started looking for a mint, and I remembered the tin of candies on the mantle. From a box that my mom had packed up with old change, dusty pictures, highschool notebooks. Rose flavored candies in a tin of William Shakespeare. Zosia had eagerly accepted them as treats, and while most of those boxed items went into a huge trash bag, I set them aside.
We each took one, Ben said they tasted like soap. Asked where they came from, and just as I opened my mouth to tell him about the box, I remembered in that sudden way that smell or taste can sometimes trigger. The night of my sixteenth birthday party-- a big surprise that Ben and my sister had spent weeks planning, had almost succeeded in pulling off except for my unusually keen sense of something being slightly off. I acted surprised, and was touched- a sweet memory in a span of years that was difficult, sad.
It was a warm night on the cusp of spring, and after almost everyone had left, I was sitting on the wisteria-blanketed porch, the warm air carrying their sweet smell. I felt some hands on my shoulder, and without looking, knew whose they were. It wasn't love yet... not quite yet, but in that small moment, his clammy hands on my shoulders, all I can say is that I knew. It was so inconspicuous, so comfortable. Just the way that he might put his hands on my shoulder today, or twenty years from now. There would be conversations, shaky hand-holds, nervous kisses later. But in that moment on the night of my sixteenth birthday, I could see it-- us growing up, changing cities, babies growing up.
And those rose candies-- a gift from a friend at that party-- with their subtle flowery taste embedding itself in my memory. I had never been able to pinpoint the beginning, but sitting on the floor around a Scrabble board with those candies in our mouths, the silence like a sweet song, I did.