I have eaten at maybe two or three restaurants in my life that qualify as "four diamond" or "five star" or whatever. You know the kind... the best of the best. Like the chef is creating a special meal just for you. And they grow the basil and the sage in a garden out back.
In 2004 Tim took me to New Orleans to celebrate my graduation from business school with my MBA in cause marketing. We (quite literally) ate our way through that city. It was before children (we actually met the boys the day before we left... so technically, we felt like parents even though they weren't "legally" ours yet--we talked about them the whole time).
During that vacation in 2004 we ate at a restaurant called Bacco. I couldn't tell you where it was or how to get there (and frankly, it might be gone now due to the hurricane), but it was the kind of place where they put your napkin on your lap for you and bring you a tasting menu so that you can make sure you get what you want.
I had the most tender pork loin in the history of braised meats. It had a prune reduction sauce and was served with potatoes that could have only been grown in the palm of someones hand with the most care possible.
My mouth is watering remembering that meal from 10 years ago. It was that good.
And tonight, we ate at LaSalle grill in South Bend, Indiana. We made reservations. They pulled out my chair for me. They greeted us at the door by name. And they didn't care at all that we were grossly underdressed (we're in town for a soccer tournament. I didn't pack dress clothes. We're lucky we all have enough clothes for both days. I only packed three pair of shoes.).
We had two waiters. Our food was set in front of us at exactly the same moment with precision and grace. They brought us new silverware for each course. They made our food to order.
It was amazing.
We eat at a place like this about every ten years.
But tonight, we were celebrating Tim's 40th birthday.
He couldn't decide between the antelope (not a misprint) and the duck. So, even though I don't eat much meat, I ordered the one he didn't. Because it is his birthday, and he usually eats my food anyway. I ended up with duck. It was the most delicious and tender and decadent meal I've eaten in, well, ten years.
It didn't matter that Isaac was wearing a soccer uniform and Esther-Faith was wearing a Mickey Mouse shirt with leopard print leggings. Or that Tim had on a Germany national team shirt while I was wearing a USMNT jersey.
We were treated like royalty.
Even though the kids kicked each other under the table. Esther-Faith stuck her fingers in Isaac's water (to annoy him), and Isaac simulated vomiting when I ordered the duck. Nevermind the 100 crayola markers and the fact that Isaac eats everything with his fingers. (Including picking the croutons off my Caesar salad.) Isaac laid his head on the table at one point. I asked him to sit up straight 738 times. Esther-Faith tickled his leg under the table. I think she wrote on the table cloth (we're used to going to places with paper tablecloths.)
I could have sat there all night.
They would have let us.
We even ordered dessert. (We almost never order dessert.) Tim had three scoops of homemade, single-batch, craft ice cream (ginger snap, cinnamon, and maple syrup). They brought it to the table with a candle in it. Isaac had molten chocolate cake with peanut ice cream and candied almonds. I had keoke coffee.
Tim and I held hands across the table. We talked about how much we both miss my dad. (Today is his birthday, too. He would have been 63. Since the first year we were dating until he died, Tim and my dad celebrated together. In fact, Tim has picked out a hanging flower basket to give my mom because he misses my dad so much.)
We talked about some big decisions we have to make with regards to our oldest. We talked about how well Isaac is doing. About how awesome Esther-Faith is (in general). We talked about the last 20 years that we've been together (almost 20... The 20th anniversary of our first date is November 4). We talked about the next 20 years. We talked about how much we have in common with his parents. We talked about a courageously and beautifully honest email my mom sent us this week. We looked at each other's eyes. We talked about the love reflected back from each other.
It was rare and amazing and delicious and luxurious and sophisticated and every other amazingly descriptive adjective you can think of...
It was one of the most enjoyable evenings we've had in a long time. Sure, we missed Isaiah. Especially later as we we took a driving tour of the University of Notre Dame and we passed the track stadium.
But, as we have so many times in the last eight months, we took a minute to miss Isaiah, and we refocused our energy on the moment. Honestly, if it weren't for "the moment," we would be so lost in the pain of our lives. In the pain of Isaiah's life.
But today, we experienced an incredible meal and some amazing family time. We were able to focus on the here and the now. A 40th birthday. A BIG win in the tournament (a 16-point win). A GREAT start to the school year. A new 504 plan (for which Isaac was able to advocate for himself). New opportunities. New cities. New experiences.
Tonight was amazing.
Well worth the money.
Worth the time.
I guess, family is always worth it all.
Even when it hurts. Especially when there are celebrations to be had.
I hope we don't wait another 10 years for an evening like tonight.
And I hope I remember to pack a dress and heels and makeup next time.
© 2014 Karin Shirey Henn, all rights reserved.
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2 months ago