The sidewalk outside the supper club was icing over when we left – a slick layer of damp left by snow that slid off the roof and awning, worn down by sunshine that didn’t do much to raise the temperatures all day. I’m careful now about walking on ice, but it wasn’t quite there yet – still crackly and slushy and easy to see in the parking lot lights.
Tonight, it was two glasses of wine, a hunk of medium rare beef – and I even ate some onion rings and some of the fancy sundae that Delaney’s serves the birthday guest, no matter if it is a little belated. And it wasn’t just us three at the table – there were emails from friends out of state, read as part of the conversation – and the lives of passed away parents, and the riddles of children now irrevocably grown.
“Don’t let me forget, I’ve got some bacon in the car for you. You think it’s cold enough out there?” “It’s 35 degrees.” “Yeah, that’s what I thought, too.” You know – this isn’t even the first time we’ve had this conversation.
So I hug the friend who tolerates my hugging, and I don’t hug the one who doesn’t, and we walk to the van and she gives me the bacon and some leftovers from the flea market space we shared – old linens as soft and thick as cream, coming back to me unwanted, just like they were when I rescued them from who the hell remembers where.
“Thank you for making it a festive birthday!” I holler back over my shoulder as I cross to my car, parked on the darker side street. I settle inside, my purse and good-as-new camera taking their place as passengers, perched next to me on an accumulation of library music and my embroidery project bag, which I always keep in the car in case of stitching.
It’s truly dark in here now, a welcoming darkness inside this car that I bought from a boy I like, and yeah, that is Thunder Road on the cd player, So What? I’m going home to books I needed with no place to put them, and thoughts that do not include any professional ambitions, and a tangle of unmade covers on the bed. And I have nearly everything I need, and maybe that’s how I come to be thinking “…I am no more grown up now than I ever have been…” Just salty and warm, sharp and sour, sweet only on you, and happy in my little white car.