Friday, October 29, 2010

A Satisfying Day

A Satisfying Day


About thirty years ago I found myself wallowing in emotional pain over something I can no longer remember. But I know that night it was of extreme importance. Kind friends advised me, “Listen, Stupid, don’t you understand. Tomorrow you will feel Different.” Then laughter. Lots of laughter. “Maybe not better, but Different.” More laughter.

My distress must have been over money or a man. These are the only things back then that would have had me sitting in a smoky café at three in the morning in tears, ready to gnaw on table legs.

My friends taught me about change. I change. You change. The circumstances around us change. These changes are neither good nor bad. They’re simply changes. And, always, tomorrow we’ll feel differently.

With the recent deaths and serious illnesses of friends heavy on my mind, a few days ago I decided to jump-start change. I skittered out of town to visit an old friend near Great Falls .

Nothing we did that day was particularly earth-shattering or even special. She introduced me to 2 J’s where we stocked up on spices from the bulk bins. At the Habitat for Humanity Restore we poked around the building materials and imagined possible remodeling projects. I found the perfect “crystal” chandelier to hang in a dream gazebo. Since I can’t build my gazebo this year, I reluctantly left it. We wandered the paths around Giant Springs. Then we drove back across town to Gibson Park where we surreptitiously harvested a few flower seeds and watched the squirrels feed.

By now it was well past noon and we were hungry. As we discussed various places to eat I reminisced about a restaurant where a friend and I used to have lunch when I lived in Great Falls . “Lunch at Eddie’s was special. We saved up for it. We always ordered this burger that had a unique smoky flavor. I have never had another burger that good anywhere. But that was forty years ago. Eddie’s is probably long gone.”

“No, it’s still there,” Karen told me. “Let’s go. That burger sounds good.” So we headed back over to the east side near Malmstrom Air Base.

I recognized Eddie’s instantly. We walked inside. I surveyed the tables and booths. “Looks like the same arrangement, same décor. It feels like nothing has changed,” I told Karen as we took a booth. I laughed as I looked around. “Including the people. These seem to be the same people who were eating here forty years ago.” The waitress brought menus. I immediately spotted the Campfire Burger. “There it is. It’s still on the menu. The best burger ever!”

“The owners added rib steak to the dinner menu,” our waitress told us. “That’s the only change since the place opened. We even still have some of the same waitresses.” Karen and I grinned. We could believe it.

The hot beef sandwich lunch special sounded good enough to seduce us away from the Campfire Burger. Our meal arrived and all chatter ceased. It had been a long time since I had wanted to pick up my plate and lick it clean. “Best roast beef I ever ate. It is so good. It is so tender. It is so juicy.” I said. “Aged to perfection,” Karen agreed. “And real gravy, made from the beef juices.” I told her, “I don’t know if it is true, but the rumor forty years ago, was that they raised and butchered their own beef.”

It’s seldom one gets to step into the past and have the experience be as good as the memory. Nothing at Eddie’s had changed. But I had changed. The day left me feeling grateful for my friends, the ones that I have and the ones I have lost. It was a good day. Karen said it best, “Today was satisfying.” There is much to be said for a satisfying day. Thanks, Karen.

Sondra Ashton

HDN: Looking out my back door

October 7, 2010

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