Dancing on tables, aka how to feel the carefree abandon of 21 again

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As I write this, I am a bit under the weather. No great surprise. I’ve been on massive overdrive for multiple weeks on end. And, when you reach my delicate age, the universe likes to remind you that your body just can’t keep up the way it used to.

Some folks know that I deplore getting older. The whole thing just feels like one big shitty joke. It’s not even so much that you tire more easily, or that you don’t spring back as quickly. It’s that I feel like the window for adventure narrows a bit with each successive year.

Like most, I did not feel this same sense of wistfulness at 21 years old. This is partially due to the sheer volume of time that I spent drunk. But I was also living each second fully and with nearly complete abandon. I had no idea what was coming and, it turns out, that was a good thing.

You know how when people talk about the ultimate state of partying, they jokingly reference “dancing on tables”? I danced on tables. Not metaphorical tables. Real life, four legs, one flat surface tables; praying that they had enough structural integrity when my three friends climbed up there with me, especially when one is 6’4” and an easy 200 pounds.

It was the late 90s in Aix-en-Provence and the scene was the Eden Roc, a bistro by day, dance club by night. Most weekend nights, we’d show up around 10:30 or 11 pm, just when dinner service was wrapping up. We would hang out for a bit with our glasses of whatever and sway to the music. But, eventually, someone would consume one too many glasses of whatever and they’d move their personal dance party up to one of the tables. From there, it just lost all sense of daily decorum.

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Now, I’ve since been known to shake what my mama gave me on a Vegas bar and a New Orleans stage, but no memory is more wonderfully outrageous to me than the tables at the Eden Roc.

I think we all know that I’ll never be 21 again. In fact, I will probably never again dance on the tables in the South of France. But, I am far from done.

Just this past fall, I saw the sun come up over Bourbon Street. After a night of some reasonable debauchery, I was dragging home my two girlfriends at daybreak. (Note: These two just shy of 30-somethings whined the whole way that I was being a buzz kill, since a few clubs were still open. Um, no.) The year before,  I was pouring these same girls into a cab after closing down the bars in Louisville, following an epic wedding. It was nearly dawn.

At 38, I see many more days that start at 6 am than end at that hour. But I’ve still got about one per year left in the tank. I expect that, in the next few decades, it might be like one every few years. And that’s ok. The key is that is still happens. There’s still a light breeze coming through the window. The day it’s fully shut, I will surely suffocate.

Food with Friends

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I met the sous-chef when I was 22… literally, the ink on my college degree was barely dry. Which means, I don’t have a ton of experience with blind dates. That’s a rite of passage that most folks in their 20s go through, that I simply never… passed.

What, in god’s name, does this have to do with food with friends? Lemme tell you. Move to a city of transplants and people are more than happy to set you up on blind dates with other friends that have just moved there.

Not having experienced the romantic side of this, I am conjecturing a bit, but I think it’s pretty much the same thing. There’s the pre-date nerves. Will we have enough to talk about? Will I recognize them when I get to the restaurant? There’s the first impressions. Wow, they’re taller than they look on Facebook. Oh, she’s awfully fashionable. There’s the sometimes awkward, sometimes seamless dinner conversation. We love all the same things! Um, I’ll ask a question about our mutual friend to move things along. Finally, there’s the assessment. That was so fun! It felt like we knew them forever. We are totally asking them out again.

The good news is that  – often – these blind friend dates (much like blind date-dates) happen over a meal. And food is an amazing equalizer. It gives you something to talk about. Have you been here? Oh, what did you eat? It gives you something to gush/commiserate over. Mine was delicious! Yours? Yeah, this was only ok. And it gives you a peek into how they manage relationships. We’ll pick up the tab. We insist! I had the cup of soup and the chicken, so I owe $27.50. A dinner together will teach you a lot about your new-found friends. And, if you happen to all be foodies, so much the better!

Just a few nights ago, the sous-chef and I met new friends. We were all connected by a dear pal in Boston. We courted for several weeks by email. Like most busy professionals, our crazy schedules delayed our actual get-together by several weeks. But, we could already see in our written correspondence that the possibilities were there.

We finally made it work over some soul food on a Sunday night. All new-ish to San Francisco, we chose a place that’s a bit of a local institution. The fried chicken was delicious. The laughter and conversation were better. The food did what food did… it created a platform for connection. Food is, ultimately, essential to the foundation of most relationships. What a remarkable thing.

Oh, and future plans were made to cook each other our favorite meals as soon as the holiday dust settles. Continuing to let food guide the path to creating more love and life in this world.

The (Non-Food) Differences Between Boston and San Francisco

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So, when I started on this whole “this is what I’ve been assigned” project, I decided to stay as true to it as possible. Meaning, I requested 31 topics and 31 I received. It just so happened that two of the subjects were quite similar – West Coast versus East Coast Living, and this this one. But, in pursuit of purity of the project, I kept them both.

For East v. West, it was a no brainer – I blathered for multiple paragraphs about the weather. Which is no small deal, but didn’t feel like it warranted a second post about it. However, I struggled a bit more with this.

While Boston and San Francisco are different in many small ways, they’re actually quite… alike. It’s no wonder that both cities often pop up on lists of travel favorites, and the volume of transplants from one to the other is stunning. I guaranteed that if you walk around SF for a few hours, you’re likely to count as many Red Sox caps as Giants ones.

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And, actually, although the request specifically called out “non-food” differences, the food scenes are not totally disparate. Both have great options for restaurants; both having booming food truck industries; both have a strong diner interest in farm-to-table options. Yes, SF is considered to be one of the food capitals of the world, but those willing to work at it can find just as delicious options in BOS.

While the people in San Francisco are friendlier right off the bat, residents of both places value friends as extensions of their families and are always eager to meet up over a beverage – it just happens to be wine here and beer there. San Franciscans value being unique; Bostonians cheer for the underdog. At the heart of it, both are just about honoring differences amongst us.

You’ll never be bored in either place. Both cities have vibrant social and cultural offerings, a million restaurants and bars, festivals for every possible thing to celebrate. Both allow for access to areas of amazing beauty only a short car ride away. In both cities you’ll sit in traffic that’ll make you want to poke your eyes out trying to get to those beautiful places.

At the end of the day, now having lived in both places, I can say that my life is not terribly different in either. Your alarm goes off, you put on some clothes, you go to work, you eat some food, and, in between it all, you try and have a little fun. What matters is that you live somewhere that inspires and delights you. I am beyond fortunate to have found two of those places to call home.

Life Hacks

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I started this project as something of a whim. I really like to write. This seemed like a fun outlet. If nothing else, a mini-diversion for the holiday season.

Also, I have this one friend. She always tells me she wants me to blog again. I love this friend. A lot. I am inclined to do this project for her, if no one else.

So, I open this up on Facebook and (to date) I’ve received exactly 31 requests for 31 days of December posts. I have exactly one (1) (uno) (ichi) (wahad) topic for which I have not a G.D. clue what to write about.

The request is from that friend. The, hey, please blog again, friend. I am ashamed. I feel that I have failed. She wants a post on life hacks. And I have drawn a blank.

In a moment of pure desperation, I demand of the sous-chef (otherwise known as husband number one), “What life hacks do we use around this house?!” Hand wringing included. He assures me, “No problem, I saw an article that’s perfect for this.”

Sous-chef’s article: http://seriouslyforreal.com/seriously-for-real/99-life-hacks-that-could-make-your-life-easier/.

Life Hacks

I read the article and several times have this reaction, “Huh, that’s pretty clever.” More often, I have this reaction, “You must be kidding. Who has time for this nonsense?” And then I realize. I have my post.

You are fine. Your life is fine. Your house is fine. Your cupboards are fine. Your fridge is fine. Your messy ass desk is fine. Your sloppy, unorganized, Barbies and Legos on every free surface kids’ rooms are fine. You closet with mismatched shoes and silks with wools and short and long sleeves all mixed up is fine. Your spouse or your housemate is fine. Your dog is fine.

Stop criticizing the shit out of yourself. If you’re reading this, there’s 99.9% chance that you’re my Facebook friend and I know you personally. And you know what? I think you’re more than fine. I think you’re fucking awesome. If I don’t know you personally, I’m willing to bet you’re pretty darn awesome.

You don’t need life hacks. You need life. You need to love. And drink. And swim. And pet your cat. And tickle your kid. And watch reruns of Modern Family. And work too hard some days and beg off at 2 pm on others. And giggle. Fucking giggle as much as you possibly can.

I don’t care if the wires behind your TV are tangled. Or, that the unsealed bag of rice in your kitchen has spilled all over the floor. You know what I’ll think if I walk into your house and see that? “Thank god… she/he is too busy too. I’m not the only one living in chaos.” And after I walk into your house and see your obvious and desperate lack of life hacks, I hope we hop in my car and go somewhere to have a stupid amount of fun.

Because that’s how you hack life.