It’s not been an easy move, from Montpelier to Alexandria, VA. Alexandria might not be the capitol of Virginia but it’s a lot bigger than Montpelier, which definitely has a small-town feel about it. I’m glad, though, to have finally made a friend. It’s so cool that Cody, the executive assistant at the wildlife organization I now work for, invited me to this very chic bistro. Cilantro and Sage, how cool is that? I’ve enjoyed sitting here watching the herons, ducks, and bald eagles on the Potomac River while waiting for Cody to show.
She’s very jaunty and reminds me of my best friend back home who went to cooking school. As she strides toward me, I smile. She finger waves and then slides into her seat. Her curly hair bobs around her heart-shaped face.
“You got here early,” she says.
“It’s my one bad habit, or good one, depending on your perspective. I’m never late.”
She nods, her lips flattening. “Yeah. I’m always late for everything. So I guess it’s my bad habit.”
She orders a whiskey sour, which makes my mouth pucker just thinking about it.
Her pretty blue gray eyes scan the menu before looking up at me quizzically. “You’ve decided already?”
I grin. “The benefit of coming early.”
When the waitress returns, I order the halibut in ginger and garlic while Cody orders the bacon wrapped filet. But before the waitress leaves, Cody asks for a cheese plate with fig preserves and harvest bread. Intriguing.
I’ve fallen in love. Who knew that goat cheese and fig preserves were literally made for each other? I’m thinking I could make a meal of this. The tartness of the goat cheese and the rich sweet fig marry so well and then the slightly toasted harvest bread with nuts and seeds. I’m pretty sure this is epicurean heaven.
Cody grins at me. “It’s good, right?”
I nod. “The best.”
She grabs my hand, which seems odd, strange, especially when her thumb caresses my palm. I glance from my hand to her face, my eyebrow rising. I pull my hand away. She frowns, blanches.
“Crap. Mixed signals?” she asks.
Signals? There were signals?
“I think?” I say. And then it hits me. She thought this was a date. I immediately feel bad, worse than bad. Did I say or do anything to make her think I was into her like that?
The last bite of fig, cheese, and bread is dry in my mouth. I cough lightly.
“God, don’t choke. That would be a disastrous finale to a grand mistake,” she says, smirking. She avoids my eyes.
“God, don’t apologize. It’s my fault. I just hoped you were gay even though I knew the odds were against it. But you have a vibe. Maybe it’s just your Vermontness.”
“You have very pretty eyes,” I say then immediately feel stupid and know what I said was stupid, although I meant it.
She laughs, looks out the window. “You just need a friend. I can’t turn away a friend. We all need friends, right?”
I nod, more fervently than necessary. She laughs again, although it sounds forced, hollow, and maybe a little sad, for a laugh, that is.
She looks at me now. “Good, we’re friends.”
“Thanks,” I say but know we probably aren’t. When we go into work on Monday, things will be awkward and we’ll pretend that dinner never happened, that nothing happened, that we barely know each other, although it won’t be me who pulls away. I’ll look for other friends. And she’ll look for love. We’ll be just the way we were before this evening. Lost. Searching.
Yeah, fig preserves with cheese is one of my recent discoveries. You can most definitely buy fig preserves (which is what I do) but if you’re more adventurous (as I once was–who knows, maybe still am) you can make it!
First, here’s a recipe I’ve made and switched out the red pepper jelly for fig preserves (I didn’t have the red pepper jelly but did have fig preserves (go figure)) and it was delish! That was the only change I made.
Recipes for Fig Preserves just add cheese 😉 and bread or crackers