I’m reminded of when Barbara and I were dating. We would walk a few blocks to this quaint little café on the corner. Its ambiance was aesthetically warm and beautiful. But when I was with her, beauty and aesthetics were not necessary. Nevertheless the beauty of this place was afforded to us. I would open the door and she would walk through and it was as if that café framed her beauty. We would always look for an open place near the window. We would wit at a small oval table skirted with earth toned embroidery. I especially enjoyed going there in the early evening as the sun would crop her dark brown hair. Then Placido Domingo would sing his way down from the ceiling and surround us.
Barbara would then gently place her forearm and hand on the table as an invitation for me to rest my hand on hers. A glass of burgundy for her, and light chardonnay for me. Her hands would play with the glass, circling its rim with her fingers, gliding its stem with her palm.
We would talk for hours about everything and nothing and the spaces between. I would stare at her as she talked on and on, although not at her eyes. I would imagine her eyelashes as a set of brushes that would paint the air between us as on a canvas. Then she would notice I wasn’t listening and she would stare back at me, our eyes transfixed on each other, staring, gazing, pupil to pupil, as if they were portals to our very souls.
Then Placido hit a high and clear note, beautiful that evolved into irritation. It was a sound that sliced our moment in two and broke our trance.
It was then we realized as we turned to look, a mother dragging her child out of the play land and out the door. The child screaming and pleading like nails on a chalkboard…”I don’t want to go! I don’t want to go!” Then Laura and Lissie squished up against us and Laura said, “Dad, you lost! Mom won the staring contest!”
Then Barbara peeled Vermont from her wine glass and asked, “Jerry, do we need this?” And I tenderly replied, “No, honey, we already have 13 of them, but I’ll keep this one just in case.” And so I plucked it out of her hand with my forefinger and thumb and slid it into my breast pocket.
She gave me a look as if to indicate it was time to go, so we raised our glasses and took one last sip of diet coke. Sadness came over us as the sun was just a dimple on the horizon. But bitter sweet it was, for we knew that we would return to this café once again to sit and drink once more and with hope to peel off Connecticut Avenue.