I am bad about anniversaries. We always seem to be so broke in time for them, my beloved used to be working on many of them,and it seems unseemly to make a big deal out of surviving and not driving each other crazy. I guess when most folks have been married 20 years, maybe they throw a big party, or go out someplace romantic for dinner. But we are so decidedly unconventional. So after 20 years,of good times and bad, we grab one of my oldest friends from the airport--someone who knew me when I was not yetfully formed, someone from halfway round the world who passes through once every few years, and I forced my ornery children who know my most recent history, and we all DINED together, worlds and times mixing like a ride in a TARDIS, at a fun place like Chicago's Province, a place that is green from its walls to its cuisine. A dining experience that puts our money where our mouth is in our shrinking world.
Dining, as I always say, is what makes us, as a species, civilized. And on a purely personal level, its also what makes up the scrapbook of memories in my life--my absolute best memories have always had a meal involved--whether its our yearly insanity of Cinco De Mayo at our family haunt, Las Palmas,or the Easter Brunch at Va Pensiero I recently blogged about. I have some mellowed and beloved memories of stellar Thanksgiving dinners, of Passover Seders, of my sister in law's beloved Very British Christmas Dinner with Yorkshire Pudding. Think about your best times, and I bet somewhere in there, there is a memorable meal.
I do not actually remember the meal at our wedding---I was too strung out and exhausted to have eaten it. I do remember the meal we had on our first honeymoon--- a drive to Michigan with the old dog and the new dog, and pasta at a roadside dive where the sign boasted Its A Boy. We now have a house out there and we still call the place Itsaboy.
When we came into a windfall, we took another honeymoon---to Spain. I remember a wonderful seaside cafe where we ate Langostinos (lobster) but the BEST meal we had was at a campground on the sea where we ate a chicken we bought from a roadside rotisserie and drank wine we had picked up from a monastery with a huge line outside.
When we opened the bottle we knew why---and almost drove 60 kilometers back to get more.
It was so fitting to share the occasion of arriving at two decades together at table with people who can see the long telescope of the lives we have made. My friend watched wide-eyed as my child slurped oysters. We have "unusual" children with wide ranging pallets which is befitting the offspring of artists, I suppose. When you are in a party of 5 instead of a party of two, it really BECOMES a party, and you can order whatever you want to try, knowing someone else will most likely help you finish it. So we sampled and tried and ate off each others plates and talked and laughed. It was fun to find out, after nearly 3 decades of knowing each other, that my friend and I both love lamb with guilty pleasure--which got eye rolls from the kids. And it was rich oh so rich to watch my mate of two decades teach his children how to prepare an oyster, a delicacy that will, I am afraid, always be lost to me. The chef sent us out champagne, and we toasted to each other's long lives and future.
All too soon, the evening came to an end. The city of Chicago complied with the occasion and gave the streets we walked out onto a lovely sheen from the rain. In the film biz, its called a Wet Down--- a picture perfect shiny evening. We dropped my pal at his hotel, kids passed out in the back.
I cannot believe it has been 20 years. Life goes by so fast. Appreciate it, and try not to dine alone. Thank you my world traveling friend, for making us mark the occasion in such a memorable way.