There’s this place by work…a bar in a basement that’s had my eye for the past few weeks.
They’ve got this red sign outside advertising breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And lately it’s just been calling out to me – though mostly I’ve been ignoring it.
Made no sense to investigate while I was on the cleanse. Didn’t look like a place that catered to vegans abstaining from cooked food. And ever since I wrapped the 21-days of clean, raw, vegan menus, I’ve mostly been brown bagging it (in reusable bags, of course).
But, today I didn’t.
I had a late afternoon packed with important meetings. I wanted to arrive to these meetings feeling good, focussed, and peaceful. So, I decided to take my pen and my legal pad and find a place where I could connect with some pages and find a decent lunch.
The underground bar finally felt right.
I walked in to find the two room establishment packed with locals and local business folks feasting on bacon burgers and buffalo wings. There was at least one gentleman insisting to the woman tending bar that today be a four beer lunch.
I’ve worked in the city for just shy of a decade now, but somehow I’ve never tapped in to this daytime scene. The dark wood bar with it’s thick coat of polyurethane. The brown and tan tiled floor. The roaring conversations and thick accents.
Maybe this reveals too much about me – but the whole place just felt cloaked in comfort.
Even at the bar, scribbling away, with my ice water and Mediterranean Plate appetizer – even though nothing about my style or lunch order suggested it – I felt like a regular.
I couldn’t put it all together until the bartender asked, “Have you been here before?”
And then, I remembered.
The night Ken and I joined our dear friends to toast the life and honor the passing of Patrick. It was right across the street.
We raised high-end drinks and ordered succulent, decadent bites of fried quail. We cried and shared stories of our incredibly kind, funny, stubborn, courageous, passionate, loving, and handsome friend. Stories of our trusted colleague and partner in crime. Of our therapist and trouble maker.
Stories of Carol’s husband and soulmate.
Following the emotional and expensive tribute, an even smaller crew of us decided we needed to balance things out with a jukebox, beer, and appetizers that would leave us cursing Patrick and each other in the morning.
And that’s when we wondered across the street to the bar in the basement. The very same one I found myself in this afternoon.
All of this remembering took place in the flash of a few moments, that certainly felt longer than they were.
Had I been here before?
“Yes,” I finally managed to answer – suddenly fully and happily aware of why I felt so good, sitting alone, in this packed place meditating over a legal pad. “Yes, I have.”
“I thought I recognized you,” the bartender responded.
I smiled and nodded and asked for some more water. Then I went back to visiting my friend through my writing.
He lovingly mocked me for the hummus and the lack of alcohol in my glass, and then helped me find the strength and confidence I needed to successfully proceed through the rest of my day.
It was the best lunch I’ve had in a long time.