There are places you want everyone to know about. A great restaurant, a good show, an interesting exhibition. But there are also places you want to keep to yourself.
Last night, with Vera and the kids, we went to our homey brown bar a few streets away from our house. We ordered the usual, spaghetti’s and a nice glass of wine for Vera, a Dubble Westmalle for myself. The food is good, not grand cuisine, but just good. One doesn’t come here for a culinary experience. We are here to relax, alone, with ourselves as company.
This bar is perfect. It is dark enough yet with sufficient spots of light and with candles to throw off the right amount of shadows too. Also the noise level is just loud enough, a comfy rustle of syllables with the occasional cling of glasses and clang of laughter. And even the smell is right, especially in wintertime when the stove is sizzling and waves of smoky wood chips play through our nostrils. The owner is my age, so the music is a mix of my favorite classics, with Pink Floyd never far away.
The owner has seen our kids grow up in his pub. He must remember how they used to climb on the high stools when they were just ten and twelve years old, and I can see his smile as he watches them now at the table, taller than their parents beside them. I see him smile, and so do I.
I smile and remember. My memory is like a Dutch Gouda, I have holes where my recollections should be. What day of the week are we? What happened just the other week? That is why I started writing this blog, after all, to remember.
But, looking at the three persons around me, laughing and chatting away, snickering like little girls, word smiting jokes in three different languages, giggling and even singing to each other, so loud that I have to ask them to quiet down while I look apologetic to the other guests, who never really seem to mind, I do remember and remind myself that it is good to spend some time, from time to time, with the ones you love, in a Brown bar with Blue music and Amber beer or Burgundy wine, winding down.
Here is a place to breath, a moment to bury the hatchets and drink the peace. Just outside of the door, the rats race on. And soon enough we will join them again. But now, just for an hour or so, we take refuge, These are the times to repair the sails, to map the new course, to agree on the game plan. Because when we get out, and the gale rises, we better be ready, lest we drift off in different directions.
So, drink your rum mateys, it’s all hands on deck again soon, and I want to see you all aboard when we sail that ship in.