We trickle in to the restaurant slowly, over the course of half an hour or so. There is no rush; there is plenty to do while waiting for each other – cakes and pies and pastries to ogle in the bakery case, and catching up, one on one.
We ponder cookies and truffles and whether we should save room for dessert. We ponder the fact that the place has a ‘polenta of the day’. We ponder the menu and wonder how we are supposed to pick just one thing.
We order our food and find a table; the only one large enough for the group. This is especially challenging because we’re still not entirely sure how many people are coming, but we will make it work. We always do.
We eat pulled pork sandwiches and grilled shrimp caesar salads and giant cheeseburgers and butternut squash soup, and we sip our drinks, and in between bites we silently eye each other’s plates and think to ourselves ‘Hmm, maybe next time I will have to get what she is having,” and there is never any question that there will be a next time.
We chatter between bites, sharing stories about kids and pets; about families and jobs and travel and good things and bad. A chance meeting with a friend results in a surprise plate of cookies brought to our table and we finish our dinners and then nibble on delicate cookies crusted with bright green crystals of sugar. The cakes and pastries and truffles are forgotten.
There is laughter, because there is always laughter when we get together. There is knitting, because that is also a given too. We are surprised and instantly apologetic when a waiter comes over to let us know they’re closed, and we hastily gather our things, having completely lost track of time.
The air outside is cold, and in the time between when we arrived and when we left, there has been a bit of rain; just enough to cover the cars in a light sprinkle of individual drops. We call out our goodbyes to each other as we each head off in a different direction, climb into our cars, and head for home.