the hum

The hum of the traffic tried to compete for our attention with the laughter coming from the couple next to us. They inquired about my cocktail and laughed hysterically as I likened it to a smoked lemon drop.

I wasn’t sure what was funny about that but I imagine the eruption of laughter came from the purity of the joy felt in that moment. The cocktail, everyone squinting through the sun as we relearned what beautiful strangers look like without masks, the intimacy, seeing me mouth lemon drop rather than not being quite sure what came from behind a mask and asking someone to repeat themselves…

… did you say… smokey lemon drop?

No, they didn’t have to do that, I didn’t have to repeat myself, we all just laughed.

Laughter is another one of those themes that found it’s way into my posts this past year. Laughter when we realize things will be ok. Laughter when we stumble across what used to be mundane and everyday but now stops us in our tracks. Laughter when we realize we truly love people, it was our lack of appreciation of our pre-pandemic lives that brought us down, not the people who made us sour.

But not sour like that lemon drop, that drink that is best described as a smokey lemon drop was divine. The good kind of sour.

The wait for that cocktail and the laughter from nearby souls was almost worth blowing our dining out budget on. But the real reason we were there was waiting inside. The stone wrapped fireplace was blazing hot, but it welcomed us back like old friends. The waves of heat it produced like a hug… the kind where someone holds too tightly and when you pull away, you wonder what they know. I almost paused on the way to our table, it didn’t feel like it had been over a year since we’d been there.

The heat from the fire that seemed to have never been put out, even after all of this time. The smell of rosemary sprigs lit like an incense adorning plates as waiters rushed by with arms full of perfectly cooked lamb chops, sesame covered baguettes and summer squash macaroni and cheese. The bar tender topping exquisitely prepared drinks with foamy egg whites while the hostess scrambled to find their most expensive bottle of local pinot noir.

Though not for us.

Oh no. We did treat ourselves to a local pinot, but not the most expensive. It was for someone else, although probably someone a lot like us.

People going to their favorite restaurant for the first time in well over a year. Proud of their ability to snag a reservation. Ignoring the fact that bills are still due tomorrow even if funds earmarked for payment were going into that 2nd bottle of wine instead.

Like I said, I just almost paused on the way to our table, but before I knew it, the last sip of coffee was taken, plates were cleared, and we made our way to the car. The hum of the traffic took over again where the hum of conversation from inside died out. Our stomachs full, our hearts full, we were quite certain it was the best meal of our lives and before we left the parking lot, a reservation was found for a party of 4 and the invite had been sent and accepted.

Ox, we’ll see you in two weeks and this time we’re bringing friends. Please have that smokey lemon drop ready when I get there.

2 thoughts on “the hum

  1. I love the way you write! So descriptive, I can almost taste that smokey lemon drop! I’ll have to put Ox on my list of places to visit if I ever travel that way.

  2. Thank you! Sometimes words just come easy 🙂 Ox absolutely needs to be on everyone’s list when they visit Portland. If you know any good cooks, they have a great cookbook as well. It will suffice if a visit to this area isn’t in the cards.

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