Damn Good Hot Chocolate: The Power of Yes
Fire in a thimble
Gazing down at the steaming ceramic elixir on the table before me, I frowned.
My partner and I had ducked into Kakawa Chocolate Shop for a sweet-scented respite after a long day of cheese sampling, chocolate fountain tasting, and all-out exploring in Salem.
Wanting some warmth, I ordered one of their specialty “elixirs”… but I hadn’t expected to get a cup that looked more thimble than mug.
I’d paid, so what else to do but give it a try? Picking up the delicate thing, I took the tiniest sip…
And gasped as my eyes popped WIDE OPEN.
Soft hums of rose and almond swirled with the luxurious orange heat of chili at the back of my throat, warming me with its unexpected fire. Now THAT’S an elixir.
“Holy sh*t,” I breathed to my partner, “this is the best hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted.”
Currents of spiced warmth lavished themselves on me as I sipped more. Through their bright, glowing taste, I couldn’t help but remember the first time I dared step foot in Salem.
Exploring in inches, tiptoes, and sips
I’d been hesitant then, too, taking it all in through inches, tiptoes, and sips. Where I’d grown up -- the only world I’d known -- a place like Salem was just an echoing memory of wickedness and condemnation.
Even more than the fiery Jack Chick tracts I leafed through during dull moments on mall-evangelizing days, I remembered the comic book I’d had the misfortune of flipping through one day.
It was seared into my memory: the three kids who tried out a palm reader for fun, against their friendly neighborhood Christian adult’s advice, and ended up possessed by an unfriendly neighborhood demon. Since then, I’d taken special care to shun all things magic, from Harry Potter to flimsy Ouija boards.
But when a class trip took me to Salem my sophomore year of college, I came face to face with just how deep my fear ran. I returned home stunned and determined to face this thing. So I bought train tickets and took myself on a 2-hour ride to Salem, no plans, no pretenses.
I walked down the cobblestone streets, challenging myself to get to know this little town for what it was, not the unseen evil I’d always taught it must house. I stepped over the threshold of a pagan shop and breathed in self-conscious relief when the top of my head stayed remarkably lightning-free.
And I fell head. Over. HEELS. (As pretty much anyone who knows me has learned!)
The power of a tiny “yes”
As chili, rose, and almond melodied at the back of my throat, it struck me that If I had never dared to get curious about what Salem was really like, I wouldn’t be sitting here with my best friend today.
I wouldn’t have frolicked around the Cheese Shop of Salem (one of my favorite heavens on earth) tasting melted raclette, truffle cheese, and pear cider.
I wouldn’t have plucked free fudge and scones off a pagan shop counter beneath hanging dried lavender or explored the cool-witch shelves of Hauswitch.
I wouldn’t be searching out the glowing ice sculptures around my favorite town in the bright winter air.
By now I was at the bottom of my little elixir, the chocolate still singing the kind of heat that stays with you. I couldn’t believe how tiny it was for such a sweet kick of a drink.
That elixir reminded me of a lesson I’ve learned again and again: “yes” is such a little word, yet it’s so powerful. Saying yes to life looks like so many things, and you never know quite what’s on the other side. But experiences are our best teachers.
Enter the room.
Send the text.
Give it a go.
Take a sip.
Go ahead: be curious.
It might just be the best damn hot chocolate you’ve ever had.