I think it’s important to note that, last Friday evening at 9:45 pm, after my girls were in bed and the day was at its conclusion, I messed up the chocolate ganache icing I was making to top a friend’s birthday cake.
The ganache needed to set overnight and I had no more semi-sweet chocolate in the house. I had chocolate melts and bittersweet chocolate and unsweetened chocolate and three kinds of cocoa powder, but I was fresh out of what I actually needed. I think you can technically salvage a separated ganache with enough warmed cream and whipping, but I was beyond the tedious task of troubleshooting at such a late hour and after a full day.
My partner left the house in the rain to buy me more chocolate.
He came home, shook off the drizzle from his slicker and handed me a shopping bag with both name-brand and generic chocolate inside of it. He said he wasn’t sure it mattered but he didn’t want to bring home the cheap stuff just in case I needed the good stuff. He also bought me a tall carton of heavy cream so I’d be covered if I failed a second time and a fancy coffee creamer for my coffee in the morning.
It was gracious and thoughtful and the kind of thing a person does for another person when they are being completely selfless. He has done this simple act countless times in our shared years; a commonplace act that feels more authentic than roses on an anniversary or a beach vacation, which are nice, but generic when you’re looking for name-brand.
I am trying to remember these moments because there are many others that are less than stellar; incidents of friction and hurt feelings over bad moods and half-done chores or unmet expectations.
The act of orbiting each other daily in a small house during a global pandemic can become stifling.
To be a good partner you have to continuously work on balancing criticism with acceptance, but some weeks it feels like there is a deluge of argument. It’s a cycle of discontent that’s hard to break until you realize that you break it by pausing an old episode of The Sopranos and drive to the corner market in the rain to buy chocolate chips, or by recognizing that someone is willing to do that for you just six hours after you had a clipped argument over apples at the market (that wasn’t about apples but about communication).
So you set down the sharp retorts and pick up something softer: a kiss, a thank you, a discarded section of cake sponge with warmed chocolate spooned over it, and you hold out the peace offering, a wholly selfless gesture.