rendez you

Tryst is amazing!

I held this evening clear in my schedule to spend time with a friend from massage school, Kim. I adore her and I always have a wonderful time when our plans line up, but Kim is a disaster at staying in touch, making plans and sticking to them. I’ve tried, at her urging, not to take this personally, but at a certain point in all relationships, there is a conscious choice to either make them a priority – or, not.

There comes a time when that failure to make time to involve yourself in someone else’s life does become personal; not necessarily cruel, but it is a signal to me that clearly, my energy is being wasted on this person, and might even be making them uncomfortable due to his or her own lack of responsiveness. I reached that point in my relationship with Kim over a weeklong sojourn to the District of Columbia when calls went unanswered, texts were returned perfunctorily if at all and, on the night she’d said to plan to hang out, her silence (as opposed to my cell phone) was the only thing that rang out.

So there I was, wandering lonely as a cloud, wanting to leave DC with a bang but not knowing how, and criminally bad at feeling comfortable hanging out alone in public. The home is so much the center of the social life for me that if I leave it, it is because I am going somewhere to do something, usually something that can’t be accomplished in my house. Sitting around updating my blog and uploading copious International Herald Tribune articles to my Facebook page not being among the number of things that require social locations, I was at a bit of a loss to understand what to do or where to go.

Lauren suggested Tryst, a small place in Adams Morgan, and I’m so glad I mustered up my courage to go. I walked from her house cold and indignant, checking my phone for messages from Kim that never came, getting lost and asking directions in an airheaded way from a gentleman in a fetching scarf that was only black and white checked (but I figured I could still trust him to steer me in the right direction because of the nearness of his garment to those I sought in Houndstooth Watch 2009). I walked in and moved seats three times in the first ten minutes, but then comfortably settled back into the holy grail of seating comfort: a couch by a lamp and not one, but two tables, in a small alcove of two couches and three chairs, with its back against the wall.

Tryst is a coffeehouse whose d├ęcor makes me happier and more comfortable than I thought any one place ever could: most coffeehouses focus far too much on ease of stacking and cleaning, and content themselves with uncomfortable desk chairs that don’t encourage a very long stay. This place, on the other hand, is a mishmash of parlor scenarios, fabulously fallen old antique couches and chairs with ridiculous lamps and tables thrown in for flair.

The jumble means that you can sit, as I did, alone between two groups of people having private conversations, two of whom were sharing a couch with me, and not feel alone or forlorn or bereft. I felt, instead, enigmatic, mysterious, alive and completely at my ease. The piped music (loud, hard-edged) was interspersed with live, a jazz bassist, keyboardist and trumpeter, whose cheeky instrumental rendition of “Happy Birthday” instantly conjured up Monroe’s breathy delivery of same to another young president, so many years ago.

Lauren joined me later and delighted, as did I, in our sweetly ditzy waiter - seen above, trying to explain the mystifying Chartreuse - and the delicious drinks he brought us. (Because, although up to Lauren’s arrival I had focused on the aspects of the menu such as vegetarian quesadillas, chocolate roulade and an amazing homemade chai that would have made pickier tea drinkers even than I weep, once she arrived it was time to get krunk.) We chatted, marveled, joked and dreamed, and caught each other up on the last many years.

I don’t think I’ve seen Lauren since we both went off to college, at a meetup of friends on our first extended break from school in December of 2003. So much has changed since then, but it was so lovely to rediscover this friendship in full flower, and delight ourselves with all the things that have remained the same – or gotten even better, with age and time. I began the evening in a fit of pique over a relatively new friendship that I hoped would provide me with the wild night that I ultimately never had on this trip to our country’s stoic fortress.

But it was an unexpected pleasure, just as this whole sojourn has been both unexpected and full to bursting with pleasure, to discover an old friendship that has survived the test of all this scratchy time. Unmindful of either of us, like a field of wildflowers neglected to tend to a demanding orchid, it continued on its cycle, flowering in a matter of fact way as if to suggest that there are things in life, sunrises and a good night’s sleep and springtime, that march on forever while we get down to the business of moving those stones that take drudgery and patience. They will be there, in reserve, when we take a moment to lift our eyes from all that toil and see.

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