It was Grams who first introduced me to the ballet. She would always take me and my brother Rumi when we came to visit, although he would pretend the whole time he didn’t want to be there, but I could tell that he was just as engrossed in the performances, just as caught up in the stories of Cinderella, The Nutcracker and Peter Pan.
I was thinking about Grams and feeling melancholy, sitting by myself in the lobby waiting for my cab, coffee in hand, just brooding. Harry’s shift had not yet started and a flock of twenty something geese had flown through the lobby, with this pubescent energy that could only make you feel ancient. They were wearing the clothes I used to wear, the type of clothes that looked gorgeous on a twenty-one year old and effortlessly and through no fault of their own making you feel like a dinosaur, when I heard someone say, “Is this seat taken?”
I looked up to see my friend Mel, a mane of dirty blonde hair flowing down her back. Lioness was the first word that came to mind. She looked cheerful but tired. Her boyfriend Nikhail was out of town, (attending the wedding of an ex-girlfriend) and she was left to entertain herself.
“Well, one should never entertain them self, themselves,” I said and then I remembered Bayadère.
It was the perfect idea. Mel, as a little girl, had also loved the ballet. Although, more often than not she was forced to watch it on TV clinging to the remote, like a wild cat with a piece of meat clinched in its jaws, to prevent her brothers from changing the channel. This time however, we would almost front row seats, so close that the magic of 1800s India would engulf us. And so it was a date. Mel and I went to see the Bayadère performed by the Boston Ballet.
There was nothing better for two lonely girls than a tragic love story set in ancient India with vibrant colors and elaborate stage décor and unrequited love. Ballets are often like dreams and in the background I could feel Grams watching with me, knowing when she would gasp or laugh or shed a tear.
After the ballet ended and we were still applauding and wiping our tears, locking arms Mel and I made our way to the lobby. Mel left to go to the restroom and I was standing watching people go by when I’m sure my eyes locked on a familiar face with brooding eyes…it was Armand. Near him was a woman in a smartly tailored suit though I couldn’t see her face it seemed like they might be together. How serendipitous to be bumping into each other like this! I was about to wave, having raised my arm half way in the air when he abruptly turned away and disappeared into the crowd. It left me questioning whether I had really seen him at all.
I was about to turn follow Armand see if I could catch up. I had not but taken two steps when I bumped into someone built like a wall. Even before I saw him, the familiar scent of his cologne made the hairs on my neck stand on end. I stepped back to see my neighbor from across the hall. For a split second I forgot where I was, the two of us alone in a crowd. His arms reached out to steady me. In the light his hair appeared as dark as mid-night and his Mediterranean complexion almost translucent. He was wearing a dark Versace dinner jacket and he gave me a look that said he was not unhappy to see me. For once I was dressed for the occasion in a little black sweater dress by Phillip Lim, (with a round sequined neckline). Involuntarily, I smiled back.
“Hello,” he said. “I hope you are not lost. You seemed to be looking for someone,” he added tentatively.
“I was but he’s gone.”
“Did you enjoy the ballet?” He asked.
“I love the ballet, it is like being awake and yet still dreaming,” I said.
He smiled ruefully, “that is a charming way of looking at it and sometimes,” he added “there are dreams that you never want to end.”
I was about to ask him if he was still talking about the ballet when out of nowhere Mel appeared by my side. She beamed a triumphant ‘gotcha’ expression as if I had just been caught with my hand in the proverbial cookie jar. Not knowing what else to do I introduce them.
“This is my friend Melanie, ” I said “and Mel, this is….”
“Javier…Javier Castel” he said giving Mel a gracious smile as Mel and Javier exchanged pleasantries we were joined by a striking beautiful woman. Her hair was the color of muted fire and seemed to clash with her pale pink dress. She gave me an icy smile. “Excuse me,” she interrupted, “but I think we may be running late.”
Javier looked at his watch to confirm if it was true. I couldn’t help but notice the silver face of his Ulysse Nardin watch, set in gold with a black wristband. I concentrated on this watch as it were the most remarkable thing in the world instead of looking at Javier or his beautiful date.
“Very true,” he replied to his friend whose name turned out to be Daniela.
We politely said our goodbyes and just like that he was gone.
“Wow, what a hunk,” Melanie commented. “Did you get his number?”
“No, I murmured eager to change the subject.
There is no better change of subject than food. We quibbled about where to go for dinner for twenty minutes before we ended up at the Rustic Kitchen. Rustic Kitchen has all the charm that you would attribute to an old world bistro with a delicious Italian menu. We nibbled on an appetizer of eggplant involtini (crispy eggplant rolled around fresh ricotta with herb tomato sauce mozzarella and basil) while I fended off questions about the mysterious Javier.
“You never told me he lived across the hall from you,” Mel complained.
“Why, where you going to come over with your boyfriend?”
“That’s not a bad idea. I should have a couple of neighbors over for drinks. Stir things up a bit,” said Mel.
Fortunately, at this point our entrees arrived. I had a steaming bowl of porcini mushroom tortellini before me (with baby spinaches, roasted mushroom, pine nuts, and Medira cream sauce). It reeked with aroma of comfort. Mel had ordered the baked rigatoni (with tomato, basil, ricotta and fresh mozzarella). We took no time digging into our entrees. Fortunately, before Mel could needle me some more about the man of the hour she got phone call for none other than Nikhail, who was extremely drunk and extremely miserable. How’s that for just deserts? It was the icing on the Belgian chocolate mousse cake (with rich Belgian chocolate mousse layered with chocolate sponge with chocolate sauce & strawberries) we ended up splitting. We left Rustic Kitchen satisfied in unimaginable ways.
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