It was the spur of the moment. It was bound to happen. It was unexpected too, involving the Bizarre Bazaar, a sudden cold front and a lot of cell phones. Mostly, it was spurred by the perfect storm of dinner time, proximity, the hunger for hummus and the love between various friends. But whatever made it happen, the result was 13 of us, most of who had known each other for 30 years or more (“before you were even born!” could be a common refrain) ending up at one table at Aladdin’s. We had run into each other at the Bizarre Bazaar, the annual art and gift show involving exactly what you might imagine.
After we got our annual divine oddity — an altar for life/death/rebirth that involved whirling dervishes and sun gods — we ran into batches of great friends. Things coalesced while marveling at beautiful pins of 1940’s bathing beauties or over sparkly things that could adorn tables or earlobes. By 7, we were all in the back of the restaurant, putting tables together and waiting for other diners to finish so we could fetch their chairs.
“In 20s years, we’ll remember this dinner as so wonderful,” I told my friends and kids as we talked about what else we’d remember: that however badly we thought we looked now, we would think we were damn good-looking at this from the vantage point of 2032. That we might not remember any of this at all. That we loved overhear the conversations of the kids (aka, the ones in their late teens and 20s), who grew up together, all ended up sharing falafel and fast-paced stories of working at google or kissing the wrong guys. That we could lightly reference stories from decades before about each other that sent us all into blasts of laughter. That we laughed hard also over who grew up tethered to a clothesline and who had to get married in jail. That we were too full for dessert and too happy to leave the table after the bills were paid.
In the end, we set out our different directions, this particular confluence about to fly apart toward New York City, Lecompton, South of the Wakarusa, Knoxville (as in Tennessee), St. Paul, and North Lawrence. A magical dinner lit into full warmth with just a spark, and even afterwards, its warmth traveling through miles and years with us.