Small World

Posted by Censor Librorum on May 10, 2006 | Categories: Lesbian in a Catholic Sort of Way

This past weekend Lori and I were in Portland, Oregon to attend our son’s graduation. I had made reservations for Saturday night at Genoa, a restaurant with only 12 tables and no fixed menu. Each course was revealed as it was served. We usually like what we like: but decided to be different and try whatever came our way.

The waiter, a man in his mid-50s, came over to describe the first course. He asked where we were from and we told him New York. Visitors from the other side of the country always elicit more interest than locals so more questions followed. What emerged boggled the mind in terms of probability: Lori and the waiter grew up in western Massachusetts in towns next to each other: Chicopee and Ludlow. They attended Cathedral High School in Springfield, although six years apart. They liked and disliked the same nuns as teachers. They both had served on the Student Council, and went on the same senior year journalism trip to New York City. After high school graduation, the waiter went on to Manhattan College and Fordham. After Smith, Lori went to Columbia.

At 25 their paths diverged. After breaking up with his partner, the waiter left New York with his share of the household: a VW Beetle and a saint bernard. Man and dog drove across country and settled in Sonoma, California. When smog invaded Santa Rosa, the man left for Oregon. That was 20 years ago. He told us he found New York was a place only for people who had either a career or money; and since he had neither he moved on. We concurred with that statement–New York can be a hard place if you are poor or drifting. While we were talking I was still stuck at the mental image of stuffing a saint bernard in a bug for a cross-country trip. I owned a saint when I lived in Alaska, and knowing their propensity for drooling and gas, admired the gumption of a guy who make it up and down the Rockies with that dog in the car. How did he ever see out a window! In Alaska, even in the middle of winter–I got used to driving with the window down if Monk was along with the ride.

When dinner was over, the waiter gave us our coats and a big hug. I returned the hug, and held him one second longer, the way you do when you’ll miss someone, and don’t know when you will see them again. Lori and I agreed dinner at Genoa was the most exotic, exquisite dining we had ever enjoyed; but the unexpected highlight of the evening was discovering the small world in which we live.

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