It’s 5:46 pm and I’m slowly getting ready to have dinner at 7:00 with Alise. I haven’t seen her in 2 ½ weeks. It will be a good visit. I’m listening to my favorite Pandora station that plays old standards. I like this music because for the most part none of the songs take me back to some bitter or sweet memory. A few songs do, but I can handle a few.
Living alone is something I’m not quite used to yet. I remember my grandpa telling me that the years go fast but the days are long. He lost his beloved wife, my grandma, when he was 6 days shy of being 69 years old. She was 66 years old. He went on without her for 12 more years. Jim was 66 years old, too, when I lost him. I wonder how many years I will go on without him?
Since Jim’s been gone there has been no hurry to get anywhere. I have all the time in the world. In fact, I now have to look for things to fill my time. Hence, I’m taking my time to get ready for dinner.
It’s another scorching hot day. I close some blinds in my bedroom to block out the sun. Standing at the bathroom mirror in artificial light I see my age clearly – 57 years staring back at me. Yeah, Grandpa, you were right. The years go fast. I’m thinking how Alise’s friends will call me “Mom.” Yep, because I’m the mom and they are the kids. I’m thinking also how I need to not forget that either. Not being a grandma, not having a husband around to remind me, and having parents who still look at me as their little girl, I sometimes forget my age. That could be embarrassing, so I’m careful to remember my spot on the timeline.
Everything is in place, my hair, my makeup, my attitude. I close the remaining bedroom blinds, turn off the lights, turn on a lamp, walk down stairs and do the same, out the back door, pass through the humidity and heat and get in my car. I continue to listen to the old standards on Pandora as I meander up Nolensville Pike toward Nashville’s German Town.
My thoughts wander here and there. I’m feeling rather dull so I give myself a pep talk in order to be good company tonight. It’s easier to navigate Nashville now that I’ve been here almost 3 years. The drive is pleasant. There’s not much traffic and I’m enjoying being out of the house.
The restaurant, Rolf and Daughters, is located in an unassuming neighborhood. I arrive right on time, 7:00. Parking is not an issue because it’s still early and it’s Tuesday. No one is on the street or at the patio. I guess because it’s so hot. I’m the only one. It’s my own little world between my car and the door.
The place is full but as I walk through the door I immediately see Alise on the other side of the room standing at the bar. She smiles and waves. I tell the hostess I’m meeting someone and breeze past her like I’m a somebody. I’m not, but I’m heading toward a somebody. My somebody. My daughter. She looks radiant. We hug. I’ve entered her world.
As we stand waiting for two seats to open up I am greeted by Alise’s friend who is one of the managers. I’ve met her before. Alise and I, she and her mom had all gone out to another restaurant, Cat Bird Seat. What a night that was. Her friend’s dad had just passed away. The four of us were part of the secret society – the Society of I-know-that-you-know-how-I-feel. That was a little more than 6 months ago. We hug.
I then see working behind the bar another friend of Alise’s. We exchange greetings. I’ve not spent much time with him, but once we all had lunch together. He seems enigmatic. Suddenly, I am greeted with a big hug by another friend. This friend is my friend also. We’ve known him all his life, as he would say introducing us later to a couple of patrons.
Standing and waiting we drink sparkling rose. The conversations are light, but the connections are meaningful. There is laughter and joy. Two seats open up and we grab them. I’m there to be with Alise and don’t care what I eat. She orders for us. We start with crostini with chicken liver and green tomato with peaches. Delicious. Our old friend, a bartender there also, comes over and pours us a little shot of Tequila mixed with an energy drink. Okay, I’m game. Apparently, there is a history behind this drink. I think it’s what gets them through a long night working the bar.
Next we get a salad, Mokum Carrot, Fennel, Hyssop and Pecorino. Interesting, not bad. Ah, but next we get the pasta, Mafalde, Maitake Mushroom Alfredo. The noodles are long and ruffled. The sauce was light and had a hint of lemon. It was to die for. Dessert was Vanilla Panna Cotta, Blueberry, Saba, Almond Crumble. Whoa – so good. Not too sweet and a perfect balance of crunchy and creamy.
We sit and eat and talk catching up on our lives, speculating on our futures and being thankful for what we have. I can’t keep my eyes off her. I love her. She is my treasure and where my heart is. She tells me about her life, her friends, her loves, her almost loves. I’m so thankful that she has invited me into her world. Thankful her friends have accepted me. I care about her and I care about them.
As we go deeper in conversation Alise tells me the boys want to know if I’m ready to date. I laugh. First off – what boys? Second –why? Do they want to go out with me? The boys are 3 guys she works with and no, they don’t want to go out with me. Darn. But I’m touched they care.
I don’t think it was easy for Alise to share this. Me dating would be an awkward foreign object in the middle of our not-so-ready-for-the new normal landscape. Dating. Dating? Oh man, I don’t even like the word. I only want to ‘date’ Alise and her friends. Hang out with them on occasion between times with my own friends.
This date is going well. We finish up close to 9:00. Early for Alise, not so early for me. We say our goodbyes to our friends and walk out into the balmy night. After our personal goodbyes she walks to her car. I turn around and walk to mine. I head for my empty house with gratefulness that my life is not empty.