“Aren’t they just so gorgeous?”
“I don’t know if a cupcake can qualify as ‘gorgeous,’ Annie.”
“Of course they can! Especially that one.” She bent down to get a closer look at the Bavarian Creme’ Frosted Chocolate. “Helloooooo, beautiful!”
“I thought you weren’t eating sweets this month.”
“I’m not,” she sighed, straightening again, “but I like to window shop.” She smiled back at him, then turned to continue her intimate gaze with the Strawberry Champagne With Rainbow Sprinkles on the top row.
“Won’t that just make it worse? To know you can’t have it?” He watched her watch the pastries. She kind of looked like one her self today. With sparkling silver joggers and a puffy orange jacket zipped up right to her freckled face, he imagined she’d be in the row of Tangerine Buttercream On Spice Cake.
“Nope. They’re pretty. I like looking at pretty things.”
He raised his eyebrow at her in response.
“Okay Liam, fine yes I’d like to stuff them all in my mouth BUT I’d want to do that either way and admiring them is more fun!” She laughed as they continued their walk downtown.
Now that he agreed with. Looking and not having was certainly more fun than not looking at all.
“Whyyyy did they have to schedule a meeting on the coldest night of the year?” She whined, pausing again. This time she was peering into the window of the Chocolatier de’ Paris.
“It’s monthly, it’s not like they picked it on purpose. And if someone had been on time, we could’ve gotten a parking spot on the street instead of back in the lot.”
“I couldn’t find my shoes!” She said to the truffles.
“Come on, we’re already late. Jack’s gonna have one of his hissy fits.” He tugged her arm.
She pulled him back towards her and the chocolates instead, “Well he can throw a fit all he wants. The festival isn’t for 5 more months, we have plenty of time. Oh, look at THAT sexy thing!” She was pointing to a white bonbon with a syrupy swirl drawn on its dome. “Think it’s caramel?”
“Nope. Looks more like tar. Maybe soy sauce.”
“Ewww, Liam. You’re ruining it!”
He laughed, “What?! I’m helping! I’m making them less tempting for you!”
She shot him an exasperated look, but started again to walk with him.
“I can’t believe he’s making us meet in this vegan deli. I bet they don’t even have a dessert bar. Probably just like… a kale smoothie bar.”
“The deli was your idea, doofus. You said with everyone on a diet, it was the safest place.”
“Well someone should have stopped me. It was a terrible idea.”
“Becky seemed to like it. I think she’s crazier than you though, going without meat for a whole year.”
Annie tucked a stray blond lock back into her beanie, “Pfft, I saw her sneaking beef jerky the other day. ‘New year, new me’ my ass.”
“Says the no-sweets girl hypnotized by the “Go Nuts Donuts” sign.” Although he had to admit, the pink neon light washing over her was quite appealing. It seemed to turn her into something unworldly, as if she was radiating a strange light on her own. He wanted to bathe in that light of hers. It was so warm, so lovely.
“Oh shut up,” she smirked. “Did you even make a resolution for the year?”
“Hm?” he shook off the little daydream, “ahhh, nope. Nope, no resolution. Don’t need one if you’re already perfect.” He started walking again so she wouldn’t notice he was also radiating a bit pink.
“Liam!” She caught up to him, “come on, Liam. You need one, it’s good to start the year trying something new.”
“Like torturing myself as you are?”
“It’s not torture!” She huffed, “It’s growth. And when the month is over, I’ll pick a new one for February. Preferably I’ll be picking it while digging into a pile of java-chip waffles.”
“Whatever you say.”
“Alright, if you don’t make one up for yourself, I’ll make one for you.”
“Oh?” His heart rate picked up. Having her in charge of anything like this for him was probably not safe. Eyes forward, he pulled his scarf a little tighter as if it was a shield against more than the wind. “And what should I give up for the year?”
“Or month, sure.”
“Hmmm…” She stopped to think in front of the Galaxy Diner. There was no window display here, but he knew she was imagining the vanilla shake with Reese Pieces mixed in. It’s what she’d order every time their group of friends had met there, whether it was 11am for brunch or 11pm for an after-exam celebration.
“What if instead of giving something up, Mr. Perfect, you add something on.”
“Like what?” he asked. Like you?
“Like your ukulele. I’ve never seen you play it- it’s just there on your bookshelf.”
“I’ve played it! It’s just… been a while.”
“Can you play anything?”
“I’ll have you know that my performance of Row Row Row Your Boat brought my old roommates to tears of joy.”
“Most likely those tears were when you finally stopped.”
They glared at each other for a moment. He loved it.
“YES!” She jumped a bit, and he laughed at her exuberance, “by the end of the year, you have to be able to play a song with at least 5 notes in it.”
“Alright well that sounds doable, a whole year to-”
“You’re right, too doable.”
“By my birthday.”
“By your birthday?! That’s in like three months!”
“Your problem, not mine,” she winked before taking off across the street.
“Annie!” He dodged a biker and a Hyundai to get to her, “Annie there are crosswalks for a reason!”
“Yes but if I’d waited until the crosswalk, I wouldn’t be able to smell the coffee shop from the other side, and it’s hot chocolate season.”
As they passed Who Let the Beans Out, she took in a huge breath, and let it out with a satisfied smile.
It sent a bolt of lightening down his throat, that smile. He took a deep breath as well, noting the slight spice of her perfume riding the sweet scent of hot chocolate.
“Um, well why don’t we just stop in for a cup then.”
She pursed her lips at him, “No sweets! Don’t tease me! And you just said we’re going to be late.”
He suddenly didn’t mind if they were late. She was right, the Beer & Taco Fest wouldn’t be held for several more months, so what was missing one planning meeting? By the time the festival finally got started, there will have been lots more time for preparations. The world will have shaken off the chill of Winter and he’d still be organizing vendors, regretting not sitting with her to drink a warm cup of hot chocolate.
“You’re just tempting yourself.”
He wasn’t sure which one of them he was speaking to.
Yearn (verb): 1. To have an intense feeling of longing for something, typically something that one has lost or been separated from. 2. To be filled with compassion or warm feeling.
It’s January, which means it is a fresh year to start over, to grow, to become something new. It also means there are a lot of people in my gym who I have never seen before. I’m mildly concerned about one guy in particular that is using the rowing machine backwards. But these newbies are working on a resolution. They’re trying to create a new healthy habit or rid themselves of a bad one. I try to remember this when I find a stranger already using my favorite treadmill.
I made a resolution of my own. My boyfriend, coworkers, and I are all participating in Dry January. This means no alcohol of any sort until February the 1st. We have all discovered it’s a little harder than it sounded originally. It’s not like any of us have a problem, but it turns out that glass of red wine at the end of a tiring day really made a big difference. So we’re trying to make big differences in other ways: yoga, running, meditation, occasionally buying too much at Sephora to avoid eating an entire chocolate cake. You know, normal healthy things.
There are all kinds of statistics out there that say most New Years resolutions fail. Then there are the articles and self-help books that encourage you to keep going with your goals, how to still have your resolution in April and all that. Of course they all mention that one of the problems with resolutions is the feeling of denying yourself something you want. We’re human, we like us, we like to give us things we like. It makes sense. But it making sense doesn’t stop the yearning.
The little non-couple in today’s story is full of yearning; she for sweets, him for her. They are both denying themselves something that would make them happy. She’s probably doing it for health, but we don’t get to know why he is. I left this ambiguous, because the why isn’t really what’s important here. It’s the pain and conflict of self-denial that I wanted to think on.
This year, I want our resolution to be to give ourselves more. Maybe instead of saying we’re not eating any bread ever again, we give ourselves the chance to try new things so that BOOM we find out roasted Brussel sprouts are pretty good! Instead of denying ourselves of downtime, lets give our selves patience to learn the ukulele. Lets run the extra mile, and give our bodies strength. Lets give ourselves kindness. Lets stop denying ourselves these things for the New Year.
And lets eat the damn cupcake.