I have felt like a vegetable after the excitement of my successfully funded KickStarter campaign, and from the work and emotional drain it had on me. Everything has been go go go for most of this year, so when there are moments when I can slow down and enjoy life- it is like a mini-vacation. And when those moments are surprises, even better!
Yesterday I had about an hour between commitments for dinner. I hadn’t had time for lunch so I was starving when dinner time came around. I was planning on going through the drive-thru Starbucks so I could eat in my car and make a phone call, but I somehow ended up in a little restaurant that was on my way to my car. I was thinking about Starbucks, but my body took me into this little mediterranean oasis.
So, I walk in and there is nobody there as they just opened. I asked to see a menu and the manager said, in what I’m pretty sure was a Greek accent, “I am the menu! Would you like to see the front or back of me?” I laughed and told him I just wanted to see what they were serving. He said, “What do you like? You tell me and we will make something for you.” Before I knew it I was seated and being served fresh raspberry lemonade and being asked my dietary restrictions. Without having any idea about what I was going to be served, I was committed to this dining experience. I told him I only had an hour before I had to get to my next appointment, and he took all that information and went to the kitchen.
Soon I was served a salad with a creamy feta dressing. It was delicious. Not what I would have normally ordered, but delicious. Next he brough out a little something on a small plate. As he started walking away I asked, “What’s this?” “That is surprise number one,” he said. With a smile I took my first bite. I didn’t care what it was: it was smooth and warm and covered in cheese. I ate the whole thing in no time. When he came to clear my plate he asked me, “and what was it?” “Eggplant!” I said. With a small nod he went back to the kitchen.
Then came my entrée. It was beautiful and I wish I had taken a picture. A pasta with red sauce with mussels, clams, prawns, and salmon, and a side of garlic bread. A feast for the eyes and the taste buds. He also brought me a glass of wine (I hadn’t ordered any) and said, “try this with the food and let me know what you think.” The wine wasnt the best but I appreciated his confidence in my taste. I told him the wine wasnt the best and he told me the wine vendor had told him it was a very nice wine and he thought it was only “So-so. You think it was so-so?” I agreed, “Only so-so”.
The dish was so big I had to get a box so I could take it home. My friend the manager told me I had to eat the clams because they wouldn’t keep. I was stuffed but this seemed like a good idea, so I did. Feeling quite gluttonous after all that food, my friend asked me if I wanted dessert as he scraped the remains of my entrée into the take away box. I told him I was stuffed (and my brain was trying to be good as I have been on a stricter diet lately). He said, “Not even a little bit?” “Maybe a baby bit”. He smiled, nodded, and returned to the kitchen.
What came out next was a sampler of beautiful desserts: some sort of caramel flan, spomoni ice cream, and chocolate cake. But all in little portions. How do you not eat that? When he returned and saw the half decimated plate, he ask me, “Heaven? Are you at the Heaven?” I told him, “I’m at the gate.”
He said, “My name is Mike,” and we shook hands. As I was leaving he said, “Nice to meet you! Come back sometime!”
Now, did I pay a lot more than I was intending to spend on a meal? Yes. Was it worth it? Absolutely. We live in a world that has taken away the human connection in most tasks and events. I could have eaten alone in my car, but I chose to sit down and enjoy a meal. I got to connect with someone who took pride in his work and was interested in what I had to say. I am so thankful for that meal- it was only an hour of my life but I felt transported. Every bite was savored. I really had to think about what I was eating because it was all a surprise- a discovery.
I know this isn’t my typical acting-centric post, but I just want to urge you all to find ways to discover in your life. Be surprised. And most of all: choose connection. That is all we have as human beings, what makes us part of the same universal cloth.
Savor. We don’t have enough chances to do so.