A few days ago, walking through the Stanford campus, I inhaled the scent of the eucalyptus trees, and was suddenly surprised by a memory of a night nearly exactly seven years ago. My mother had just died, and Brian and I had returned to Santa Cruz. We were invited to the home of some friends, and I reluctantly consented to go: I knew I needed to get out of the house, and most of our friends didn't know yet, so I wouldn't receive too much sympathy that I wasn't prepared to handle. No one said anything to me about my mom that night, which was something of a relief, but our host walked us out to the car and gave me a rib-crushing hug. Imprinted in my mind now are the intermingled sensations of the cold, coastal night air, the scent of the eucalyptus trees along Western Drive, and the almost-painful embrace of someone who understood.
This morning I sat at the kitchen table while the baby napped, sipping hot chocolate and watching the rain. The image that came to mind was my first day in Madrid in May 2001. A bright, refreshing morning had given way to a gloomy and wet afternoon, and Brian and I wandered through the narrow, winding streets, which are bronzed in my memory by the rain of that day and the time since then. Lost and wet, but still having a good time because it was the beginning of our trip and everything was exciting, we took refuge in a crowded cafe where I ordered a cup of the rich, thick Spanish hot chocolate, and immediately fell completely in love with it. I don't remember the rest of the day at all.