During the first few months of my ex and I dating, we strolled Fourth Street and enjoyed the sun and the fresh air many times a week. He lived on Second Street which was the perfect location for anybody who loves being in the downtown core. His balcony was just perfect: on the fifth floor, we dominated everything and everybody. We sat there many times, drinking beers and sharing our dreams, watching the sunset and watching the sun rise. At Easter, we were even treated to a ghost-like parade of Jesus followers. It was eery yet mesmerizing.
One lunch time, we decided to go walk to Mercato, a hot-spot Italian restaurant on Fourth. We sat at the communal table with the high chairs, the one where you get to interact with the couple next or across you with whom you share your excitement for the delicious food that’s about to come and with whom you make foodie small talk . Then there’s those special times where you end up sharing that bottle of rose and that yummy bocconcini salad.
Something similar happened to us that day.
Next to us was a couple in their late forties early fifties who had that vibrant energy that drew me to them instantly. You could tell they were really savouring every moment together. My ex started telling them about the food industry (he was a cook) and shared with them his passion for fine cuisine. The interaction will stay in my mind forever. It was one of those pleasant and simple spontaneous interaction that make life worth living. That’s what it should be all about, really: eating, sharing and enjoying life together, even if it’s with complete strangers you will never see again. The lady made a comment about how lovely of a neighbourhood Mission was (I agree, I love the area), the husband (presumeably) poured us some wine and passed the plate of appetizers they had ordered to us. We did the same with our appetizers, shared them happily with the couple. The main courses arrived and they told us in the nicest, most genuine way possible to enjoy our food, almost like we were about to embark on a sacred ritual. And sacred it was. The food melted in my mouth.
What stayed with me is the genuine happiness the couple had within . They definitely did not seem short of money, the kind of people who could afford a fancy dine-out more than once a week. But somehow, they weren’t cold and conceited, unpleasant and bitter, lifeless and lost. They were friendly, happy and open. They had that spark to them that felt like they worked hard for their money. To me, it felt like they had it all, they knew what life was all about.
It inspired me.
I kept on thinking, wow, I’d like to get there one day, be that person: be happy with self, feeling accomplished, open, friendly and enjoying life to its fullest all while passing that bottle of wine to my cheery surroundings.
Photo credit: Shen Zonghai