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night out

June 24, 2009

At Café Bastille, reliving the old days in Paris

Marta, Sharlene, me and Cynthia at Café Bastille, reliving the old days in Paris

Two exciting things occurred last weekend. One: I had my first real evening outing since the baby was born. (OK so I came back by 9pm… and I suppose I went to my high school reunion too but I came home by 9pm then too and worried about it and we came home to a screaming baby so I wouldn’t call it a success) Two: Lukas spent the night away from home (OK so I was there too and I came back in time to put him to bed at 9pm…) Still—these were huge milestones!

First of all, Scott drops me off at Café Bastille in downtown San Francisco at 5pm to meet with my old roommates from my 1989 Paris study abroad!!! Some of them have kids too so we all needed to make it an early night (luckily for me!) Scott and Lukas go to Sacha’s house in the Haight and the three of them enjoy the evening and eat Indian food while I reminisce with the girls.

When we all lived in Paris, Sharlene and Cynthia were my roommates and Marta lived down the hall. We enjoyed many adventures when we were 18 and loose in Paris. And here we are now meeting as adults. I arrive first and order a café mocha from the bartender to try to revive my energy from Spring allergies. It arrives with a square of chocolate. Minutes later, Sharlene appears and I go out to meet her husband Velli, who I have heard wonderful things about. He is just as fabulous as I have heard! We say goodbye to Velli and sit at our outdoor table to wait for Marta et Cynthia. They traipse in together a few minutes later and how is it possible that everyone looks the same after twenty years? Do we imprint an image of the person in our brain when we meet them and then it superimposes over whatever is really there forevermore? It seems so.

Scott, Lukas and I walk down Sacha's street

Scott, Lukas and I walk down Sacha's street

We take forever to order food because we are so excited to see each other. It is sort-of like meeting them for the first time in a way since at 18 we weren’t exactly fully formed yet. But the traits that I remember are still there. I have been in contact with Sharlene on and off over the years and she even attended my first wedding. The others, I haven’t seen for the full 20 years!

Scott leaves a voice mail for me saying that he has arrived at Sacha’s and Lukas is happily playing with bikes, so that allows me to not worry at all and actually enjoy myself! The evening progresses along and we talk and share photos of our kids and our weddings and look at photos from the Paris days. At Sharlene’s wedding to her Croatian husband, she wore a purple dress; Marta had a Roman Catholic wedding; I was married at Burning Man; and Cynthia had a traditional Japanese wedding. Amazing how different our paths seem to have ended up yet we still had a wonderful time together in Paris and are enjoying this night. 

Sharlene works at Oracle, has lived in London and now resides in New York City. She met her husband in a club. It was Sharlene who organized the night since she was here on a business trip for the weekend. Before we knew it, she had booked the reservations and we were all meeting here! She has always been spontaneous and action oriented.

Marta is a hair stylist and met her husband in line for confession at the Catholic Church on New Years Eve. She now has two little ones, one the same age as Lukas. Even in the Paris days, she went with the flow of the universe.

Cynthia married her Japanese husband whom she met through her passion for Japanese dancing. They have a three year old daughter and are moving to Japan in the Fall where Cynthia will learn Japanese and how to cook all the traditional foods. She always did dive into these really challenging situations!

So our evening unfolds beautifully, we talk, we eat, we take a few photos, and it comes to its natural conclusion without any concern for a kid’s bedtime. That is part of how I define a successful night out.

We walk out together and Marta and Cynthia give me a ride over to Sacha’s house, where we talk more in the car and I realize we really need much more time to discuss the past twenty years. So we’ll have another reunion the next time possible, but it will be harder now that Cynthia will be in Japan.

We arrive at Sacha’s at the perfect time. They are just realizing that Lukas is not going to go to bed without me. “I’ve never put him to bed” Scott says to Sacha. “Now you tell me!” she replies half-jokingly. I get into bed with him and within about 15 minutes, the little guy is sleeping, (the other part of what I define as a successful night out, no screaming kid when I arrive back and an easy time putting him into bed!) Scott goes to bed too and Sacha and I are on the couch at the far end of her railroad flat talking about my evening, her bike ride to LA, the Indian food they all had, and the fact that Lukas ate an entire container of yogurt and loved pappadums. “Pop!” he apparently said, asking for more, “pop!”. “He’s so busy!” says Sacha of Lukas. “Oh yes” I affirm and I love how she put it. “yes he is busy!” Sacha and Lukas love each other, which I am very happy about.

Sacha dances with Lukas

Sacha dances with Lukas

The next morning, Sacha makes eggs and toast and we discuss her melted burner that she had just replaced for $50 after leaving a pot boiling for so long that there were bubbling metal globs instead of a pan bottom. Lukas crawls up the long hallway that runs alongside all the rooms of the house. We play and dance and hang out for a while, while Scott explores the neighborhood and then we all start walking toward a bike festival but find out via text messages that it has been moved after encountering a permit problem (or rather a lack-of-permit problem) so we go to breakfast at this great place that was packed with people and had lots of dogs out front. Lukas uses his new stick-to-the-table placemats that Sacha has given him and ends up covered in strawberries and blueberry skins. On our way home, the little guy takes his nap and sleeps for a very long time. 

All in all, a wonderful time for everyone.

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