Last night (November 16, 2013) one of my favorite hangouts closed. I suppose it is weird that my first post in over a year is about a wine lounge but the closing got me thinking about the places we go in our daily lives and who we let in our interpersonal circles when we spend time there. Each year, each month, each week, each day, every hour somewhere we all do our favorite jaunts to our “spots” (or whatever we call them) to close out a period of time of our lives. Each place has a particular meaning to us and why we spend so much time there but we do “just because” and while some of our friends or acquaintances don’t understand, we continue to go to places where we feel normal.
I like wine. Period. No doubt about it.
Everyone who knows me knows that. When I go to a place to have wine, I hope they have more
than just three choices (red, white, rose…blah!) and that there is a selection of the local fare of several countries that I have grown fond of over the years. However this post is less about that and more about the experience. Over the years I have met many people who were also “regulars” from many walks of life who enjoyed wine as much as I did. We talked, we laughed, we shared stories, we sometimes vented. We were from different professions, different walks of life, but bonded nonetheless.
Now many times each week, as we frequented our place, a strange thing happened. We realized that we kept coming because we expected to see each other rather than just to enjoy wine. Enjoying each other’s company became the light of the moment rather than trying something new. The place we had grown to love had become a respite from our busy weeks, a pause from the hustle and bustle of our daily professions. No matter how many stories we told each other, secretly envying each others jobs and lives, the brief and consistent times we spent together made it all worth while.
We all have those places.
Each one of us has one, or several, that throughout our crazy weeks we look forward to going to those places that remind us that life is normal again. For instance, this closing made me think of other places I went to that I took for granted that will always be there that closed. My cleaners for instance. 17 years I went there. Went there so much they practically watched me grow up. When I walked in, I didn’t even have to fill out a ticket for my cleaning. They just said “Hi Marc!” and took my clothes and sent me on my way. The trust had been established over the years that my items would be handled with the care as if I had cleaned them myself.
Then one day “Chuck,” decided he had enough.
To say I was devastated would be an understatement.
After the initial shock wore off (seemed like an eternity) my second thought (after the sadness of knowing I wouldn’t see Chuck again) was: ” Where the *&^%% will I find someone to clean my clothes now!”
I must have said that out loud because Chuck howled in laughter.
Anyway, fast forward to November 15th and after a long day at work I went to “the spot.” The look of shock on their faces threw me for a loop.
“I’m so glad you came!” They said. When I asked why, they said they were closing.
After I picked my mouth up off the floor I struggled to find the word………….”Why?”
They told me and for the rest of the night, I was in another world. Reminiscing over the last 10 years, when it started, the ups, the downs the good times, the not so good times. They invited me to come down for the final evening and said all the “regulars” will be there and I said I would try.
While I was sitting at home the next night they called me and told me to get down there. The owner was there, greeting those she had known over the years, and I wondered how I had not met her in the years I had been going there. Funny thing is that she was wondering the same thing out loud, though she recognized my face.
The “regulars” showed up, one by one. We hugged, we laughed, and we shared stories from the years. We teased the executive chef over some of his “interesting” creations that we had the pleasure of trying (sorry Mark…I had to go there LOL).
We even fought back tears.
At the end of the evening we all said that we would keep in touch and try to find another place to go. I do hope we do but knowing what happened to The Friday Club when they broke up the wish seems hollow. The Friday Club was together for 8 years before our spot closed down. We still hang out, go to dinner or sometimes the Cubs games, but it just isn’t the same. We watched each other grow in our lives and jobs, graduate from medical school (Go Frank!), support each other through prosperity and through unemployment, and celebrate birthdays and holidays together.
We loved the camaraderie that formed from the karma of good people getting together in one place simply to have a good time.
Then one day it ended…
…and we are still looking for a new place.
In the end of the current run of me frequenting this great wine lounge, I can say that I have met some really good people and had some really good times. I even got a souvenir during the final night, a signed wine menu. It was a cool gift, but I realized that really I got something more valuable than that, more valuable than the great tasting wine I have tried over the years. I had established friendships that have lasted over time and hopefully will continue.
I realized that these are people who I have come to love and enjoy seeing. That we go to these places, see the same people, and know that in our busy lives the things we look forward to seeing will still be there.
Until they are gone.
Now that doesn’t mean that is bad, it just means that the moment has run its course and we should feel fortunate to have experienced it, if only for a brief time.
I could go on but I will close by saying some circles just can’t be replicated and that is probably a good thing because if everything was the same then nothing would be special (100 points to the person who can name the movie reference that came from…if you still don’t know, here is the hint).
So I will cherish the memories of my little place. On that night, we raised one last glass and said one last goodbye. We shared hugs and reminisced over all we have seen and talked about. To the owner, all the managers, servers, and of course the “regulars” I want to say “Thank You!” for an amazing 9+ years. You all will be missed but certainly not forgotten. I hope our talks, stories, hugs, laughter, and friendships continue in the next chapter of our lives in our new place wherever that may be.
I love you all.
Here’s to you.