There's something unfathomably lovely about having your spirits lifted by someone or something when that person or thing didn't even know you needed lifting up to begin with.
Such was the case during a recent visit to a special place - known for its spirits - that is normally lovely on its own, but was made even more so on this particular evening by its caring people, its always-stellar food and drink, and the kind of weight peculiar to the last evening you spend with your love before one of you moves 700 miles away.
The days leading up to this recent evening had left our cheeks stiffened by tears, our minds stretched by thoughts of distance, and our hearts yearning for the regular rhythm we had come to known as ours.
And so we endeavored to relive moments that marked the beginning of us.
It was a fitting task, as we stood at the foot of a new version of we.
We began by sipping scotch in the same seats where we shared our first date after spying one another in a summer graduate course, just two short weeks after I moved here. From there we moved to Taste - that oh-so-special place I mention above - where two short years ago, during an evening perched at the bar, my heart fell irretrievably into his hands.
Spending an evening here together is something we've done many times since this girl decided she loves this boy, but none carried with them the kind of urgency as did this night. We began on the patio. A June evening such as this breezy, cool beauty is unusual for St. Louis. So unusual, in fact, that we asked to move inside after goosebumps gathered on my arms, a front of troops unequally matched for this summer breeze. Thinking of it now, I wonder if this was the wind's way of pleading with us to return to the seats we'd shared in our early days of dating.
Settling in inside, under the influence of two cocktails each, we ordered a pork scrapple so fine we ordered it twice. Beneath the cover of a sunny, fried egg and emerald leaf of sage, lay the most succulent, tender, and flavorful pork scrapple I think will ever meet my fork. Like children uncovering treasures in a sandbox, we peered together under the egg, investigating this thing called "scrapple" and laughing in unabashed wonderment at this concoction before us - a mixture of pork trimmings and a tour de force of other flavors, all neatly molded together and panfried before serving. Unspoken, but no less present, was the wonderment we were feeling at the concoction we call us.
For some reason - still unknown to us - the kitchen sent over a sampling of two chicken tacos, another dish that sent our taste buds spinning with its finely sliced radishes perfectly nestled among slow-cooked chicken. These, nor our two pork scrapples, appeared anywhere on the bill. We were assured this wasn't a mistake.
More than not-a-mistake, this was a gift of generosity that perplexes us still today, one week after the fact. Brandon, our server, was so wonderful throughout the evening that we would have - unprompted - bought his dinner, not to mention our own. Perhaps they noticed the two or three times throughout the evening tears streamed down my face, awash with love and also sadness at its moving away in the morning. I can't be sure. But they can't have known what type of night we were having, or how their hospitality lifted us up.
No matter, this showing of kindness is something we remember with joy. And it is the kind of thing that does - and will continue to - bring us back to this place time and time again. Our experience here is not an unusual one. It is my experience that nights at Taste are always this kind of magical.
As we walked away, woozy and giddy from a joyful evening - and a couple of cocktails, too! - our laughter turned to tears as we tripped together off the curb just steps from the car. And there, in the street, we embraced each other and the new future we were (are) so timid to encounter.
The night was a perfect one, we remarked to one another.
Of course it was. It wasn't written in the winds to be anything less than that.
Thank you, Taste, for being wonderful.
And to you readers: I humbly advise you find yourselves some pork scrapple immediately. I know just the place.