Less than a week before our memoir’s release, I’m writing my first blog feeling very much the way I did on the eve of Chocolate Chocolate’s opening day way back in 1984: with high hopes.
Maybe I’m not the dreamy-eyed girl I once was but, hopeful, yes, still hopeful. As a creative writer, it’s kept me going. At ten, I was a mad typist, spitting out page after page in a musty basement den instead of playing outside with the other kids – a part of me wanted to be out there but the bigger part of me had to keep typing. At seventeen, my first poem was published by Columbia University, and in the decades since, I’ve been through every heaven and hell that authors sing and cry about. Like many writers, I admit to once possessing that certain conceit that assured me of the day I’d have it all. Readership! Applause!! Glory!!! But somewhere along the way, I got real, and the exclamation points faded away. Still, that doesn’t keep me from writing, and I hold out hope that a memoir about two sisters who ate all their profits their first year of business while they typed out hilarious stories on an IBM Selectric behind the counter will find readers. Make them smile.
During our course of penning the memoir, I found myself thinking about certain characters we’d resurrected from our past. Like “Gypsy Bess”, a vibrant woman who first breezed into our shop in 1988 and entertained us with her flashing blue eyes and Irish wit. We became fast friends and when she moved back to West Virginia ten years later, I was heartsick. Writing about her now, eighty-six and frail, made me miss her so much I’d call her every few days, just to hear her voice. Make sure she was still alive. That the past, in a sense, was still alive.
But then there was “Darren”, an old beau. Our long-ago breakup seemed like it happened a lifetime ago, to someone else. Yet one late afternoon last spring while drafting a “Darren” scene, it all came back to me. I could see his face. That grin. Taking a break from the book, I held my breath and typed his name in the Google search box. Then – click! … In two seconds’ time, I learned that he was dead. Indeed, that very day his death notice appeared in the Washington Post. For a good ten minutes, I just sat there, stunned. Then I called my sister Ginger and we talked through the night.
Chronicling our ups and downs behind the candy counter was an emotional ride for me, and surely for my co-author sis as well. A quarter century ago we were mere “girls” watching the world go by from our sacred little spot, wishing customers would come in and love our shop. I was full of hope then, and now.