Dear Dan (5) O.,
I can’t decide whether you turning 50 makes me feel older, or younger. But it doesn’t matter, we’re finally in the same decade again!
I’m writing this on the gratitude-a-thon on account of how super, major grateful I am for our friendship. (It’s nice when your girlfriend comes with a guy who can also be your girlfriend!)
Here are the ten things I like best about you:
- You’re a great listener. You always make me feel heard and seen.
- You make a mean cocktail and a perfect cup of coffee.
- You make people feel comfortable. Whether it’s at your house entertaining, or in a social setting, your sweet manner makes people feel good.
- You’re funny (and you know how I love funny).
- You’re thoughtful and take time to get to know what would really mean something to someone.
- You always know the best binge-worthy tv shows that even I don’t know.
- You’re techno-savvy.
- I love your effort to be mindful and meditate. (We share this ongoing, but worthy struggle.)
- You love your dog, like I love my dog.
- You’re adorable.
We’ve been friends a long time, and I hope you know that I consider you one of the people who understands me best. I love you for that.
So gosh darn many memories we’ve art directed over the past 14 years. Thanks for every one of them. And happy birthday.
The other Toni
We wake up. I instinctively reach for my phone to check the news. Another police shooting of a black man. We look at each other like, WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING?
There is video. There is audio. There is another crying, grieving mother who’s lost her son. And then, retaliation. A sniper takes out five policemen. And there are more mother’s who have lost their sons. And we all feel a little like we’re losing our minds.
The sadness is like a gloomy day covering the nation. The layers of “why” lie in our history. There is no simple fix here.
I’m just finishing a great book called Sweetbittter, written by a new author named Stephanie Danier. It’s all about the main character’s experience as a back waiter in a foodie New York restaurant, and its prose are at once beautifully crafted and full of reality.
While I was never a super high end waitress (I had a charming personality, but a tendency to forget your fork), I did work in a restaurant in Faneuil Hall during college that boasted three floors–each floor with a different level of formality. I worked in the most casual outdoor dining cafe, but upstairs was a wine bar and fancy pantsy high-priced menu with the kind of service that Danier describes in her book.
Ultimately it’s a coming of age story, and the experience she writes about brought back so many memories for me. Every Saturday night, a line of people stood fidgety and hungry waiting for an outdoor table. I would break down somewhere around 10:00, in the weeds, sweating off my make-up, crying a little and promising to quit at the end of my shift. But the end of my shift would arrive and I would excitedly count out my one hundred dollar bills, and happily bid all goodnight, telling them I’d see them again the next night. Waitressing has a certain golden handcuff kind of allure.
I am going to be sad, when in just a few more pages I will have to say goodbye to Tess, the narrator of Sweetbitter. She tells an engrossing tale, and reminded me of a few summers long, long ago, when I too, was coming of age.
Early morning. Cool breeze. The umpteenth day of blue skies. Feeling gratitude for the quiet of this morning. And a purple flower growing from my neighbors yard over the fence into mine. If only the world’s neighbors could share a purple flower.