Great joy this week when Bethany told me she was coming to visit me for lunch in Brentwood! I have not yet had a visitor while at my new job and I had no idea how much it would mean to me. Brentwood is so far away from all that was. It sort of feels like I've been dropped on a small little island, so distant from anywhere, from the LA that I have always known and belonged to.
So, when she arrived, I was just about jumping for joy. Or, actually, I was jumping for joy. Possibly to her embarrassment, but that's the way we've always been together. Me, unabashedly enthusiastic and dancing in the streets, and her, rolling her eyes, and us, loving each other just the same.
For some reason her visit made me think of a story my dad told me once that is seared into my heart. He was about four and in the hospital with polio and came down with something else and had to be quarantined. And he just remembered feeling so lonely in that small room and his only happiness was when his nanny would come and visit him and peer through the window and smile and wave and try to cheer him up and let him know it would be all right. He always knew she loved him the most.
It might seem melodramatic, but that's what I thought of.
When Bethany came, I was so excited to finally go and try one of the many enticing restaurants in the area. We decided on Kay 'n Dave's because I've been eyeing their menu for weeks now, but hadn't eaten there yet. It just seemed like too much of a commitment for me to go there and dine alone.
At least, so far it hasn't sounded like much fun to go to a fancy Mexican restaurant on my lunch break by myself. The best food is made better because of the social element. Being in the restaurant and sharing the whole experience. If i'm just going to sit and eat my lunch while reading a book, I could pretty much be anywhere and happy.
On our way to the restaurant, as we were walking through quaint little Brentwood, Bethany mentioned how it felt a little bit stuffy. I told her I'd thought that too. Well, then our notion was solidified when we went into a store and I leaned against the wall and accidentally turned off ALL of the lights. And I laughed and exclaimed, "Oops, sorry guys!" And no one said a word. Not a one. And I was just thinking, can't we just get a moment out of this? Share a laugh, a little bit of banter? No? And everyone just went back to their business of trying on suits and such.
Sometimes I don't get it. I mean, to me, it's the interruptions of the day to day that make life the most interesting. Those are the moments that remind you not to take it too seriously and usually the moments in which you can connect with people the most too, because you're all sharing an off-kilter experience together. Then again, I've always liked a little bit of fracas. I guess they don't really feel that way in Brentwood.
Lunch was great, though. Our friend Patrick joined us for a little while, which was such a nice feeling, to be sitting in my new world with people who understand me. We all used to work together at one point. Now Patrick works near me, which has been a comfort, knowing someone is nearby who knows where I came from.
As for the meal, it was delicious from start to finish. We started with the squash blossom relleno. I've always loved squash blossoms. Maybe because it's such a beautiful thing to eat, just visually, you're taking in something so gorgeous. Maybe because it always makes me hear my dad saying "squarsh blossom" because, I mean, he was from Illinois. And I always loved it when his archived midwestern accent would come out. There were only a few words, but squarsh was one of them. And I always smile when I think of that.
Anyway, I'm glad we got it because that dish was amazing! And I love that Bethany is always willing to share food with me and try new things. We went full stop and both got enchilada/taco combinations too, which were equally amazing. Definitely not the standard Mexican fare. The unique flavor of the mole sauce and the texture of the best cheese in the world that I come across every so often and have no idea where it comes from and all sorts of interesting flavors and elements that are the mark of truly gourmet food.
Bethany has always shared my love of seriously good food. I mean, she and I were devoted lunch partners when we worked together.
That's actually how we initially connected. Just sharing meals. Taking lunch breaks together because, at a certain point, we only had each other as an option. And then we slowly learned about each other and then we commiserated about work so much and life so much and then we just became friends and really good ones because we had shared so many stories and dreams at that point. But I don't think it would have been that way without the long lunch escapes from work.
After lunch with Bethany and Patrick, when Bethany was driving away, back to the old world, I thought about all of the phases of our lives. And how we are made of them and they are preserved by those who were there too.
And so my past falls into the hands of those who shared it with me, only to be accessed through them. And the tableaux of my life is held not by me, but by a string of people and places, and awakened only when I am around them, and there is comfort there.
As she left, I also thought of how much it meant to me that she came all that way to visit me for an hour. I suppose that's why I recalled my dad's story, because when you are taken out of the world that you know, when you find yourself in the isolation of a new place, the people who visit you mean the most. And they are few and far between. And you know you are loved. And nothing feels better.