Friday, May 3, 2013

Fitting the Pieces Together

Lunch at Cafe Poca Cosa is always a treat.  Susannah Davila is the owner, the chef, the spirit behind what I think is the best restaurant in Tucson.  She's been a model (professionally) and a community organizer (by default).  Before moving to her new digs in the first floor of the Pennington Street garage, she ran a hole in the wall that was full to overflowing. In the back, at a cloth covered table in the kitchen, she fed the homeless who presented themselves in her doorway. Not the same people every day; they knew not to abuse her generosity. They were offered the same food as the paying patrons in the front, served with the same cutlery and platters.  Knowing that story made me love the food before I took the first bite.

Today, I'm bringing three friends of mine to the table, in the hope that they will be friends of each other by the end of the meal.  We'll grease the skids with margaritas.  Drinking at lunchtime leaves me useless for the rest of the day, but I have left over Dan Dan noodles from last night's dinner and TBG is ready to order himself a pizza tonight so I have no worries about becoming dysfunctional. I'm going to sip my drink, lick the salt off the edge of the glass, and listen to the stories.

The guest of honor is the newest Tusconan of the group.  She was a librarian in our town's beautiful building in Marin, which is where I made her acquaintance.  She's moved to Tucson to work with an organization she's known since her youth and which she credits changing her life. Her hours are flexible, her location less important than the finished product, and the co-workers are delightful human beings.  All that, and she gets to live in the desert.  Some people have all the luck.

JannyLou is coming, too, after Pilates.  She'll be late, but her Arnold Palmer will be waiting for her on the table when she arrives.  I can count on her to keep the conversation flowing, and her genuine interest in the stories of other people's lives makes her the perfect companion. Some people "go with anyone" is as close as I can come to describing it.  It's a talent.  I love to watch it unfold.  She listens, she learns, she loves every minute of it.

SSgt. Lois will be there, as well.  We met at the First Stroll and Roll; she was the representative from the Christina-Taylor Green Memorial Foundation.  I have a hard time delegating; it goes to issues of trust and concern about the finished product.  SSgt. Lois put those fears to rest the first time I sat beside her; she was as irritated about the length and redundancy of the meeting as I was. We got things done and had plenty of time left over to chat.  We've been chatting for years.

All these different parts of my life are coming together in one place today.  The part that ran Trivia Night in the library is bumping up against the piece that grew out of tragedy.  The part that lives and gardens in a northside neighborhood is meeting someone who knows what it feels like to garden in real soil.  The former librarian will meet a former teacher and two former social workers and it's a real life "this is what it was like to grow up in the middle of the 20th century" moment.
*****
Lunch was great.  We gave her the numbers for our doctors and lawyers and indian chiefs and talked about neighborhoods in Tokyo and my heart was full. I came home and realized that these  next words, which I'd written before I left for the restaurant, are a mini-post of their own.  

Consider this the sorbet between courses.
*****
A younger friend wrote about Betty Friedan this week. In the fifteen years that separate our births, some fairly profound changes in women's roles were taking place.  No one told me I couldn’t do something because I was a girl was the sentence that remained with me after I finished her article. As I was typing about the teacher and the social worker and the librarian I had to laugh.  Would I be lunching with a rocket scientist and a CEO and a financier if my friends and I had been born in another decade?  

It's not that our lives were uninteresting.  The USArmy, Up With People, two years with four tweens in Mexico City ... they've all figured into our lives.  But I wonder if anyone else at that table had given the same response to a loving relative as I did when my grandfather told me that I would grow up to become President of the United States: I'm poor, I'm Jewish, and I'm female.  There is no chance.

How times have changed.

6 comments:

  1. I think you've done pretty doggone well for a Poor Jewish Girl. ;) You are an inspiration, in so many ways to so many people. I'd call that a raving success!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Yeah, but I'm not the most powerful person in the free world....... Grandpa thought I should do THAT!
      Thanks for the shout out, though, Sharon <3
      a/b

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  2. My favorite restaurant in Tucson!!

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    1. You'd have been the 4th person I invited, had you been in town!
      a/b

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  3. I'm with Sharon. You may not be President, but you are inspirational and have so many people that admire you. I have to laugh at your lunch date analysis. I often think of these things when I'm out with the girls. I'm sometimes envious of my friends that get to stay home, but then I remember that I'm learning every day and I feel inspired by that. I work at a non-profit; so I feel like I'm at least giving back.

    Lunch sounds like it was a great get-together. I love these types of lunches.

    Have a wonderful weekend.


    Megan xxx

    ReplyDelete
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    1. The grass is always greener, Megan.

      That's the down-side of the legacy my generation left yours -- the notion that it is possible, desirable, appropriate, important to have it all. At best, it's a tight rope. You are doing good work and setting a good example for your kids and theinspiration and learning that happens every day is something to be treasured... for sure <3
      a/b

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