Yesterday was a really magnificent day. The weather was a little warmer and the sun was strong in the blue sky. It was L's baby shower, so Melissa and Anna arrived early to set up and bustle around in the kitchen for a while. I had made plans with John to head down to Benny's Burritos for some margaritas while the ladies feted our wee baby.
I was in a good mood heading downtown; the air was crisp and the skies were clear. Upbeat music in the headphones, spring in my step. The Village sidewalks were crowded with people enjoying the day, out and about with their shopping bags or strollers. I got to Benny's around 2 and went inside; John wasn't there yet. I left the restaurant to wait outside on the sidewalk, to watch the people and enjoy the old neighborhood, when who do I see coming up but -- Ashesh! I have a distinct impression of seeing his face and the bright green triangle of his scarf. Even though he's only in Philadelphia (studying at Wharton; I think he's taking some kind of evening-division part-time GED prep class or something) I haven't seen him since he left the city last summer. We stood on the sidewalk chatting when who comes sauntering up but -- Russell! Russell lives in Colorado and spends some time in Virginia, and I only get to see him a couple times of year. I hadn't seen him since Thanksgiving and I wasn't sure when we would hang out next. A little while later John arrived, brandishing a bag from my favorite bookstore and laughing at my incredulity, and we went inside to sit.
(This surprise was orchestrated by L, of course. Amid the hubbub of her shower and everything else going on, she engineered an early birthday celebration for me. I was floored.)
It made me so happy to share a table with these guys. As we were sitting there, eating and drinking, I tried to take in how it felt - a beautiful afternoon outside through the plate glass windows of the restaurant, good drinks, catchy songs playing in the background, John on my left, Russell across the table, Ashesh on my right. A table of some of my favorite people, somehow finding themselves in this old dive. I had a dumb grin on my face, feeling happy and at ease and very thankful. I couldn't believe these guys would make the time to be here and shoot the breeze for an afternoon.
To be honest, during this whole pregnancy there have been some moments of extreme loneliness. A few weeks ago, when we were at the Buy Buy Baby Maternity and Childcare Emporium, I remember feeling very overwhelmed by the sheer amount of junk and information and decisions and childrearing philosophies that seemed to demand immediate analysis and commitment. I have missed having family close by, to impart some wisdom, offer guidance, and help contextualize this new baby into the larger story and tradition of our families. True, our families are never too far away, and we speak with them often and think of them even more often, but the idea of raising our kid here by ourselves can be daunting. We have relied so much on the new community we have knitted here, but I miss the old comfort and shared history of old, genuine friends.
That's why yesterday struck such a deep chord with me. After we left Benny's we made our way to Wogie's for a couple of beers. Finally we returned to John and Anna's, where we rejoined Anna and L. John cooked up a delicious dinner, we watched the Olympics and played some poker, sipping on Old Pogue and sambuca.
Yesterday I felt contented and grateful and at peace. To be honest, I felt a kind of easy happiness with life that I haven't enjoyed in a long time. I tell you, man -- with the love of a good woman, and the kind of friends who will come up to the city on a lark for a long, late winter afternoon of margaritas and poker -- these are the days and the people I can't wait to introduce to my daughter.