With the exception perhaps of my corgi Cooper, there is nothing I love as unreservedly as ice cream. It is the only thing in my life that has absolutely nothing negative associated with it, which is saying a lot for someone who has been clinically depressed for the majority of her life. When I look back on past loves, past joys, there has always been a taint, a shadow, lurking beneath the memory. There are very few things or moments of my life that I can look back upon with perfect contentment or happiness.
One perfect moment happened on my first visit to New York City. I was attending my first College Art Association Conference with my future husband – then boyfriend Todd. The conference was in February and the city had been hit with ten snowstorms in succession, with a brief lull that happened to coincide with the conference. Coming from Southern California, I was delighted to experience real snow for the first time and shocked at the cold. I was entirely convinced that the tip of my nose was going to freeze solid and fall off as we walked to our hotel. The perfect moment happened one evening when we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for an evening reception. The cab took us through Central Park and I almost forgot I was in a city as I gazed at the unbroken snow glowing under the streetlights and twinkling from the branches of the bare trees. We arrived and I asked Todd to sit with me on the steps of museum and look back at the quiet of the park. At that moment I was the happiest I had ever been and I knew it was because this wonderful man figured out a way to get us to New York even though we didn’t have much money. I was in a magical place with someone I loved and for that moment, it was perfect. I carry that moment in my heart and remember it every time I see a bare tree in the snow.
But it is just a moment. It isn’t ice cream. No matter what the flavor, ice cream is always perfect, always happy. Ice cream helped me believe as a child that growing up wasn’t all bad, that grown-ups really did remember what it was like to be a child. It reminds me of my dad, who worked at the gas station all day and wanted to watch the news in peace, and who slept through football and baseball games on television but always knew the score the instant you changed the channel. He also always heard the ice cream truck coming before I did. While other kids had to plead for money, Daddy would yell for me, push a wad of cash into my hand, and tell me his order as I ran to meet the ice cream man. If I missed it, I would chase the truck down, cutting through yards and avoiding dogs and then running back before the ice cream melted all over my hands. Daddy’s sweet tooth always made him seem a little like a kid himself and while my friends’ fathers seemed kind of remote, I felt like he and I a special understanding. My mom pretended she was less of a fan, but dropped her façade every summer when we went to Disneyland because it was the only place you could get her favorite flavor, Fantasia. She repeatedly tried to bribe our milkman to bring her some but she couldn’t get it outside of the park. So, as soon when we got inside the gates Mom made a bee-line for the Carnation pavilion.
There are few things in life that are perfect, but for me there is a snowy evening in Central Park and ice cream.