It was quiet walking down the Main Street of Metuchen. The overcast and drizzling day forced everyone indoors. Rich and I hurried to a local café, Cai’s café, to get some drinks. As we walked, Rich held my hand and guided me forward as I peered into every little mom and pop store on the block. The massage place had two Asian men sitting in the shadow of the window looking out desolately. A travel agent talked intensely on the phone as she manned the office by herself. Next to the agency, a hardware store selling rugs and flooring had a man at a desk slumped in his seat deep asleep.
It’s not easy running your own business.
Finally, we reached our destination. Rich opened the door for me and I stepped into warmth. We walked up to the barista, second couple in line, Rich looked at the menu and I looked around.
The first time we’d met at Cai’s was December 6, 2016. It was pouring, dark and wet that night but inside was bright as the sparkle in our eyes to see each other. We’d chosen a table with two barstools and we’d sat close together that our knees were touching. He was wearing his Rutgers sweatshirt and a black jacket over it. I was wearing leggings and a green, black and gray contemporary lined sweater dress. We talked about the story I wrote, we talked about his ideas for his story.
Today, the lighting was dim with gray and white ornaments hanging from the ceiling to add to the atmosphere. On the left was a lending library that had grown to fill a four feet bookcase. Every seat in the house was filled.
Rich chose his drink out of deduction of ingredients. I tried to do the same. He chose a Nutella hot chocolate and I chose a Tropical smoothie. He was pleasantly satisfied, I was – not.
My ingredients were pineapples, oranges, bananas, orange juice and yogurt – I should have questioned the last two ingredients more. They didn’t bring the smoothie together at all; the yogurt sat like an ice block at the bottom, the overwhelming taste of orange juice made the smoothie tangy. The drink got the color from the pineapples – and the threads.
As we left sipping our drinks, I grumbled about the point of trying new things when it brings disappointment. But I had to bite my tongue. It’s a risk and sometimes you can be surprised.
Earlier today, my parents took me out for lunch to a little vegetarian restaurant, Honest, on Oak Tree Road. I chose a favorite meal of Indochinese complete with Schezwan rice and delicious Manchurian balls (spiced cabbaged glazed in garlic and onion). A definite recommendation to all easing into Indian cuisine, I will also recommend another new drink I had today: a Falooda. An Indian version of a bubble tea, it’s made with milk, vermicelli and basil seeds and syrup of flavored choice. I had a Rose Falooda today. So smooth and delicate, it was true to its flower name!
So I had a good experience and a not-so-good experience with a drink. Every experience will have a 50/50 chance and the only way of knowing is if you try it out. And the experience you have need not be limited by one factor.
I had a fabulous lunch and I had a great time with my parents talking about my recent writings and classroom tensions. This afternoon, I didn’t have a great drink, but I was happy to be holding Rich’s hand walking down Main Street. I let him take a sip of Tropical smoothie and he tried so hard to look impassive it made me laugh because I knew his palette matches mine. To make up for it, he let me have some of his Nutella hot chocolate. I felt cozy.
As we walked back to the car, I peered once again in the shops of local businesses. The hardware man was alive now, talking on the phone and watching us walk by. The travel agent was shuffling papers and had a long face. I couldn’t bring myself to look into the massage shop.
I hope they all get new experiences soon, be it more business or an experience to laugh about, I hope the sun shines brighter on Main Street tomorrow.