I took a break from writing yesterday.A much-needed break.
This desire, this compulsion I've had lately to write? It's exhausting. Much good has come of it, but it's also left me pretty depleted. Lacking the energy to do other important things.
So yesterday, I celebrated my six-month anniversary with the Knight instead.
We met in the morning for coffee, then he treated me to an amazing dinner at one of my favorite BYOBs in the city. HB is a tiny restaurant. One room: maybe as big as my living room and bedroom combined, plus the kitchen in the back. It's painted a warm butternut-squash color, illuminated entirely by the light of tapers melting over empty wine bottles, reflecting in countless antique mirrors hung on the walls. Absolutely beautiful in its simplicity. And nearly impossible to get into without an advance reservation. And the Knight remembered when I told him I was dying to go back there again.
He'd forgotten his glasses, so I recited the menu items aloud to him after the server came by to tell us the specials. She told us later how adorable she found it that I was reading it to him, but she also thought he was blind. We liked her.
The meal started with bacon-wrapped dates, stuffed with almonds and baked in a dish topped with brown sugar. Probably my favorite hors-d'oeuvre in the world — the brown sugar turned into a sort of sweet, crunchy popcorn in the oven — but then again? Anything wrapped in bacon is a pretty good start. We split our entrée to save room for dessert, but we still managed to stuff ourselves on the beautiful pork loin we ordered, served with roasted apples, au gratin potatoes and sautéed collard greens. I lost my train of thought every few bites and had to bring myself back around with a guttural utterance of how amazing our food was. Dessert just about brought me to tears. The kitchen described it as a "gooey brownie," made with just a touch of flour. The secret ingredient: sea salt. It was like eating brownie batter, if brownie batter were ever served with a drizzle of warm caramel sauce and a dollop of fresh whipped cream. I knew I'd be sick if I kept eating, but I couldn't stop. So with a knowing look, the Knight took my fork away and asked for the check. While I pouted and chugged water.
Sharing a meal like that was something he and I don't get to do very often. Money's pretty tight for both of us — if anyone would like to extend a fine dining scholarship for the expansion of our palates, I'll send my personal information along — so it takes a pretty special occasion to treat ourselves to that kind of richness, to dress up and play foodie with the Knight. He tells me he used to go out to eat a lot in a past life. (But he's not sure he misses it so much; he was "raised on Potato Buds" and is still refining his tastes. He'll be annoyed I mentioned this. [He ate SPAM, too, while I'm getting myself in trouble.]) And to say that I used to go out a lot? Between a summer in Philadelphia, where I was a regular Augustus Gloop; a year and a half in New York City, where I didn't even blink at dropping seventy-five dollars on a weeknight dinner; and a year and a half in Chicago, where Yelp helped me embrace gluttony to my fullest potential? Yeah. And yet? These few beautiful meals we've shared have been above-and-beyond wonderful.
Maybe it's just that I eat a lot more delivery pizza and take-out Thai now. That when my taste buds come into contact with those flavors I miss so much, my whole body comes alive. Or maybe, just maybe, it's the company. The fact that after we've laid waste to all that food, the check is settled and the table has been cleared, I get to reach across that expanse of white linen and grab his hand. That we wave goodbye to the host together, then we go home. Together.
This afternoon, I made up for the writing I didn't do yesterday. I'm still ahead on my count by a few hundred words. I finished a big chunk of back story in this novel about a girl much like me; it's rough, but it's there. And now the plot can move forward.
So, too, will the Knight and I. Into the next six months, which I imagine can only be better than the first.