Sunday, February 19, 2012


I'm so lucky. When I don't sign up for the Round Robin, sometimes Jane lets me substitute when one of the regular writers can't make it. The deal: You get a daily prompt and write for 10-12 minutes. Then you e-mail your writing off to your partner for the week. I got to sub for three days, and my partner Will was lots of fun. Sunday's prompt was Nirvana.

Well, hell. Last night I finally got to take Tom out for Valentine's. He had been sick, really sick, so I had rescheduled our reservation at Cajun Pacific for last night. Cajun Pacific is Tom's favorite neighborhood restaurant. It's a tiny hole-in-the-wall with colored lights and beads hanging from the ceiling. There's an old-fashioned TV (but it wasn't on last night) and one waitress, Stacey. There are maybe seven tables.

I wore a dress with my green down vest on top, and black tights and black knee socks and motorcycle boots. In other words, I was dressed to the nines. I wore earrings, too and even put some mascara on at the last minute.

We were seated against the wall, wedged-in tight between two big black men who were sitting by the window, and a family of three, who sat right beneath the TV. When I say wedged-in, I mean there were maybe seven inches between our tables.

Stacey brought out two hot cornmeal muffins. I had to eat them both as Tom can't eat gluten. Even though they're made of cornmeal, they still contain wheat.

I ordered a glass of Zinfandel and Tom, some kind of Spanish white wine. We started with salads with house lime Tabasco vinaigrette and grated grana pandano cheese.

It had been a while since Tom and I had eaten out together. "Isn't it weird to be sitting this close to other people?" I said in a muffled voice. He agreed, but he loves the place. Though he had looked wary when the 4-year-old sat down beside him on the bench that runs along the wall.

We ordered our meal, New Orleans barbecue shrimp for me (beer-butter-garlic-Worstershire sauce) along with garlic mashed potatoes and greens, and a seafood jambalaya for Tom.

And soon, it got even weirder. We looked at each other and talked. It was fun! Of course, we didn't have a book or newspaper as we do at home, so we ordered a second glass of wine and looked at each other and talked some more.

I decided if I had never met Tom--if I were just meeting him for the first time, that I'd want to get to know him.

But here's what I wrote this morning in my notebook:

Nirvana. That's the prompt for today. What is Nirvana to me? I think it's happening right now. I'm sitting in bed writing with my book layout and my iPhone. Tom is on the other side of the door eating a Van's gluten-free waffle. We're both well.