I went out for Ethopian food with Rachel yesterday.
There are two sections to the restaurant. The busier section is up front by the doors. In the back, there is a darker more colorful room. On one side of this room is a bar, and on the other are two or three booths. We sat in one of the booths and we were the only people in the room. It felt small, cozy, intimate -- very removed from the rest of the world. Another world in itself.
We ordered food and got to talking. I've known Rachel for quite a while now, but we've not known each other very well. Yesterday, though, we seemed to really connect. She didn't have any agenda, no place she needed to be, nothing she would rather have been doing -- I'd forgotten how nice that can be, spending time with someone who is completely there with you, not half-focused on where they need to be or what they want to be doing next -- and I was happy to just be there, in the moment, as well. We talked for almost four hours. First more trivial things, and then we wandered in and out of wilder territory. It's the first conversation I've had in a while where I felt both I and my conversational partner were being completely honest and frank. It was refreshing. So often, there are so many things that get in the way of that: a preference for courtesy, fear of offending, fear of conflict, too many assumptions, lack of time, lack of desire... the list goes on and on.
Walking outside when we finally did leave was jarring -- exiting our cozy den, thrust back into the midst of light and traffic and people. Even now, though, there's a bit of a glow left over from the time spent with her. I felt so alive and happy.