Not our husbands; we left them home so that we could catch up on that which fascinates us but bores them.
Not with friends, although friendliness was the order of the day.
Just she and I and the Tohono O'odham families we didn't know before we sat down but with whom we bonded over popovers and chile and children.
I'm rarely the other, at least when considering identity. This morning, in a restaurant owned and operated by a Tohono O'odham family, I was separate, yet still a part. Old age is a great leveler, and no matter the color of your skin or your gender or your language, creaking joints are creaking joints. We form a community of our own without asking for a membership card. That was certainly true this morning, as we joined the already seated couples of a certain age, they and I all wearing our wrinkles with pride.
Brenda Starr smiled at me smiling.
There was nothing shy or retiring about the patrons at Cafe Santa Rosa. They smiled at everyone, even those of us they didn't know. The restaurant is bright and open and invites it.
The window shutters are thrown open to let in the morning light. Yes, the glass window panes keep the heat out, but the idea that we have the windows open somehow makes the air feel fresher. It was all part of the simple but real ambiance of the place.
They called it a popover, but it was delicate fry bread to me.
Fry bread is a creature of the BIA and surplus food stuffs and the fact that anything deep fried is automatically a comfort food. It's not a true native food, but try telling that to the patrons around us. The plates were greeted like old friends.
Remembering zeppole at the San Gennaro Festival in NYC's Little Italy, fried dough at the Marin County Fair, cronuts almost anywhere had me salivating before mine arrived. Covered in red chile, lettuce, tomatoes, and cheddar, it was light and fluffy and not at all greasy... which made it perfect finger food.
Brenda Starr said it was okay to eat with my fingers, even if nobody else seemed to be doing it.
As we ate, family groups filled out. Children and grandchildren and cowboy boots and adults in pressed t-shirts and a toddler with a too-big-for-his-head-cap and rain boots and a space ship back pack filled our hearts as our stomachs protested taking one more bite. We discussed her classes and my book and tidiness but mostly we enjoyed a little slice of another life.
I love Tucson. I can travel without leaving home. Come and visit and I'll treat you to lunch.