discovery

Ginger Ale in Manhattan

The first time I had ginger ale, I was nineteen years old. While I was growing up, we were primarily a Coke and percolated coffee family. I remember watching commercials for Seagram’s Ginger Ale and thinking it must be something for rich people. Like Perrier and Pizza Hut.

So, on that sunny day in The City, I followed my brother’s roommates up a narrow flight of stairs to an Indian restaurant just outside The Village. Square tables covered in white filled the open air dining space. Large, slow moving ceiling fans circulated above us as we were led to a table somewhere in the middle of the room. It was crowded but comfortable.

Our waiter was tall, wearing an impossibly white suit and an equally impossibly white turban. He pulled out my chair and seated me despite it being a casual cafe, and I felt like a princess transplanted from the Midwest to that magical, exotic rooftop.

My escorts for the day advised me on the menu, and I chose a fruity rice with chicken and nuts. I batted between ordering water or a Coke when I saw it on the menu. Ginger ale.

I asked Tod, “Have you ever had ginger ale?”

He smiled. “Of course. Haven’t you?”

I shook my head. “No. Do you think I’d like it?”

He smiled again. “Yes. It’s divine. You HAVE to try it.”

Okay.

The waiter brought our food and drinks. He set down a glass goblet, beads of condensation glistening like jewels along the sides. Ice floated in half moons as the golden nectar bubbled and churned – dancing.

I sat up a little straighter. I arranged the napkin a bit more neatly over my lap, and I took a sip.

Divine.

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Sweet Suprise

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To say that a five year old can be impatient is an understatement. For them, the air is still electrified with constant discoveries assailing their senses in the best of ways. They are Magellan, Marco Polo. And the world awaits. How could they stand still? Why should they?

We adults, on the other hand, have spent several decades in conditioning. Our eyes closing to the wonders around us, and we would-be visionaries grew up to have mortgages and car payments, too many to-dos, toilets to be scrubbed and schedules to keep. We barely have time for sleep, let alone for dreaming. Really dreaming.

A few months ago, my little family and I were standing in line on a soccer field, waiting for my son to have his picture taken. The adults, myself included, were standing and staring, reining in the occasional stray child. The nonconformist rebels.

My son and his little friend were trying so hard to be still. “But Mommy, my body is telling my brain that it just can’t stay still much longer!”

Then, it happened. Her words came out of my mouth, unbidden. My mother telling my son and his friend to sit and look for a four-leafed clover. As she had told me to do countless times in a life long past.

Their bodies were still, for the most part, and their wills were occupied.

The little patch of clover at our feet that I don’t really remember seeing in the first place, was dotted with miscreant dandelions. Pretty patches of yellow in a sweet patch of green. They looked and looked, but never found a four-leaf. But during his search, my son occasionally picked a dandelion or two, and a couple of fragrant clover blossoms, and gave them to me.

“Mommy, I picked these just for you! Will you keep them forever?” Blue eyes hopeful.

“Yes, of course I’ll keep them forever.” A hug and a kiss, and a mother’s hand brushing against his freckled cheek.

I hold onto them for a while, then tuck them into the little side pocket of my purse.

Today, I was looking for something. A boring, grown-up something that I knew was in there somewhere.

Frustrated, I take everything out. Wadded up napkins, receipts, a pen, more receipts and some loose change.

My fingers scrape the bottom seam, and there’s something not a penny, or a Tide stain stick. Something soft and delicate, dry and crumply.

I draw it out. My little wilted waiting bouquet.

It had survived months in the crucible of my life on the go. Pounded down, smothered, by bills and checks and keys and my cell phone. Day. After. Day.

Still, they have color, and fragrance, and shape. Identity.

We were all Magellan once. I think we all are still. Where are you keeping your dreams? Your mind’s occupations? Are they dormant, glazed over by an “I want coffee,” “when will this day be over,” or an “I’m so tired?”

Go. Outside. Breathe Deep. Look for the four-leaves in your life. Look up. Look down. Search. If you don’t find one, it’s okay. You’ll find something else. Just keep your heart open.