If Paris is an exotic, sophisticated woman of the world, then Boston especially Harvard Square is gangly teenager trying to keep up with its older sibling.
I got out of my cab in the middle of the square, just across the street from Crema Café. A local hot spot infested with students, faculty and tourists. My mouth watered for a croissant or a muffin but judging by the heavy foot traffic I understood why my old friend had opted not to meet here. Instead Casey chosen a restaurant that specialized in New England cuisine sprinkled with French inspiration. Harvest is practically on the outskirts of Brattle Square, nestled amongst The Atrium Shopping Center and office space. I was glad it was away from most off the mayhem – better for cozy conversations and private tete`-a-tetes.
There was nothing that helped you feel more at home or acclimate yourself to a new place better that a good meal. Harvest’s name consistently comes up amongst Boston’s best restaurants and if I was anything, it was a foodie.
I could tell as soon as I entered Harvest that it was the type of place my grandmother loved and I wondered if they might know her by name. I looked around the restaurant for Casey. It had been ten years since we had last seen each other and then I spotted her. Casey was already waiting for me sitting casually, her ash blonde hair pulled up into a twist and her eyes that always reminded me of the desert were hidden behind a pair of scholarly looking glasses. Casey still looked like a teenager; the freckles were now hidden under make-up and a much sleeker chignon had replaced her shaggy ponytail the only thing missing was her book. Casey looked up and smiled and I now understood that the menu I thought she was holding was actually, a sleek tablet. For a moment time stood still the way it does when you see a ghost from your past, not quite believing it’s actually there, but it was a living breathing Casey that enveloped me in a monster hug. She smelled both sweet and earthy like the crisp scent of autumn, heated with the subtle aroma of warm spices…cinnamon, nutmeg and all things earthy.
Just like that the pretense shattered. I felt myself relax, the tension in my body slipping away. “Look at you!” I said my hands clasped over my mouth, but before Casey could respond I heard my stomach growl.
“I think we need to catch-up over food,” she said. “You look half starved. Paris may be the land of the chic but here we like to eat.”
I wasn’t sure whether to be ecstatic or offended at Casey’s attempt to fatten me up… ecstatic, I decided looking over the menu – I ordered the eggs benedict with smoked salmon and baby spinach on a toasted English muffin with Lemon Chive Hollandaise.
As it turned out Casey was settling well into academic life but coming from a family of Wall Street warriors and who had all left their mark on the financial market, no one could understand her leaving a choice position at an established firm to enter academia; even if it was Harvard.
In turn I filled her in on the better part of ten years. Licking Hollandaise sauce from my lips I started with Sorbonne to dazzling Jacque with his old money, family vineyard and philandering ways.
The perfect confidante Casey would gasp in the appropriate places and offering the supportive, “pig” or “damn right,” in between bites of her beet salad or mouthfuls of falafel. When we could not eat another bite we vowed to get together, and eat again.
I arrived home my stomach full, my heart light and the vague image of Casey driving off in a metallic black amethyst Jaguar still fresh in my mind. I almost didn’t see the man in the lobby. He was wearing a dark suit fashionably cut…I’d guess Armani, and chatting with Harry our concierge. He was the type of person you would expect to have eyes on the back of his head; everything about him emanated control, poise, and refinement like a Latin James Bond.
Mr. Very Bond, looked up from his conversation and caught my eye giving me a look that for an instant made my heart and my stomach occupy the same space. It was my neighbor from across the hall – this time with his clothes on.
Having established that I had not peed in my pants I held his gaze until the ding of the elevator. Only after the door closed did I start breathing.
Next Post: Nov. 30