"What are you doing?"
"Putting stamps on my letters."
"Stamps? Are they like stickers?"
She bent down to hide under the counter.
"Can I have one?"
"I need to use them all. I'm sorry."
She walked around to my side of the counter to watch me. As I peeled the last stamp off the backing, I noticed that the front cover of the stamp book was also adhesive. I pulled it off and gave it to her, and as I walked away I saw her playing with it.
A chance run-in with a colleague from another campus, enough time to chat food and end-of-semester stress. Her friend, who teaches at another campus where I was offered a job, says, "Oh, you're the one who took the job at M instead. Good decision!"
Sitting alone at a corner table for two, which feels, now, strange, but was so familiar for so many years. I relax into the table, sip San Pellegrino, read a poem from a friend's collection, and listen to the gentle thud of chef's knives chopping vegetables. I glance up into the kitchen prep area, and watch one of the pizza chefs gather a handful of arugula like a bouquet. My server, friendly and appropriately attentive, describes the specials—none vegetarian, but all blissful sounding—with real affection. My pizza—the campagnola, with a slick of san marzano tomato sauce, roasted zucchini, roasted eggplant, roasted peppers, sauteed rapini, and mozzarella—arrives swiftly, and I tuck into the earthy flavors, and my own thoughts.
A perfect skim, single cappuccino, topped with a lush layer of crema, served with two raw sugar cubes, and small silver spoon, in a brown stoneware cup and saucer.
The clerk who carries my purchases—local organic milk, eggs, squash, garlic, onions, dried beans, and crusty italian bread, as well as imported san marzano tomatoes in a bpa-free glass bottle—out to my car
Driving the long, scenic way home, curving along the lakeshore, bathed in shades of grey and white.
Reading journal entries from 2009 instead of the novel I'm working on (Claire Messud's The Emperor's Children), and smiling back on the fabulous, marvelous, once-in-a-lifetime moments unfolding.