My sweet friend Carrie and I ate at Mellow Mushroom today and I though "wow, gotta include this on the list". It's nothing super special. I mean it's got a fun vibe, but that's really not it. And the pizza is really, really good, but that's not it, either. I'm pretty sure I can get really, really good pizza in New York. If not, I'm calling it a loss and going home.
The issue here is really that it's "our" place. Carrie and I casually refer to it as simply "Mellow" and with Peyton I'll occasionally call it "the Mellow". Among a small few of other favorite eateries, Annie is intimately familiar and calls it by name and requests it.
But back to the friend angle. It's one of only a handful of places (maybe five?) that Carrie and I have successfully (or unsuccessfully, ha!) taken our combined five kids to. There was a time when we could do a bit more classy with the kids, but that time is not now. It's also the main place we go when we bring our husbands along. And I can remember at least one girls night there.
There have just been SO many good conversations with a great friend in those booths and maybe it's because I'm doing this series (okay, I'm pretty sure I know it is), but I just got really sentimental sitting there today (I mean in between Graves dumping lemonade on himself, demanding my Caesar dressing, and playing in the mud). I'm going to miss it.
Not because of pizza. Not because of the cool atmosphere. But because of the friendship that grew at those tables. Even the friendship between our big girls grew over pieces of pie, rowdy brothers who spilled things, and incredibly slow service some days. And if those walls could talk? Well, I can only imagine what they'd say. So many hysterical and wonderful and great and beautiful things. Quite a few that are a bit too TMI for this post. But that's what a great friendship is, someone you can be yourself around...the pungent parts and all.
Moving on, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention one other restaurant where friendship was birthed and bloomed. Back in the day when I just had Ann Peyton, Carrie and I and our friend Ashley (who lives in Missouri now and who WE'RE GOING TO VISIT IN NOVEMBER!) would meet with just our infant girls at Beagle Bagel and have bagel sandwiches (or in my case, I *always* got the salad sampler- with pasta, potato, and chicken salad). It was lovely.
We started a friendship from nothing and became really close really fast. I totally give God ALL the credit because as a brand new momma with few friends in my season of life it meet a need, a desperate one. Well God and the fact that the way I do friendship is that I just spill it all out, mortifying anecdotes and all, and then you get to decide if you take it or leave it. But, you know, God works in that, too.
At those tables, while we spooned babyfood into those little girls' mouths and watched them go from sitting at the table in their infant carriers to sitting in high chairs (Annie took a really long time to graduate to a high chair she was so tiny and I milked that safari seat for all it was worth) we had so many precious conversations.
Ironically, this picture was taken almost exactly four years ago- in October of 2009. I love it. Evy playing with Ann Peyton's seat, Aubrey looking about ready to bolt, and Annie in a zone, per usual. Also, I kid not when I say that she was itty bitty. She was SIX MONTHS OLD.
We talked about new mom moments, and breastfeeding, and discipline, and marriage, and sex, and extended family, and emotional health. And we talked about blogging and finding deals on baby clothes. Because obviously.
So much of the processing of what it means to mother was done there. There are conversations that happened at those tables that I still remember and Annie is four and a half. From some of them I gained grains of truth that I'll probably share with Annie when she has her first baby. But more than anything, I felt a sense of encouragement, and of solidarity, that I needed so badly during that season.
I guess I finally discovered where I'm going with this. Saying goodbye to friends is hard, and I'm sure that will be a post in itself but there's also this thing of saying goodbye to an experience, because I think this is more about an experience than a place.
Cookie and I were talking once and we both said that our favorite thing to do, more than going to a movie or doing anything else, was to go eat good food and visit. That's always been high on my list of things that count as self care. Anyway, I know Carrie and I will keep up, but there's something about sitting at a table and looking face to face with another momma who is one of your dearest friends and having your children face to face as well and just recounting the joys and trials of your week.
Yep, I'm gonna miss that. And it's got nothing (okay, very little) to do with the amazing extra Mozzarella, extra Feta, garlic and oil based pizza.