Saturday, February 2, 2008


...not the stuff you write about, or read about, but the way it really is.

A couple of weeks back, when it just kept raining, my husband and I went to our favorite Japanese noodle place for dinner. We were the only people in the place, but we chose the booth way at the back. We sat side-by-side on the brown vinyl bench and watched the rain fall through the big plate-glass window beside our table.

Cars drove by outside. Their headlights illuminated the falling rain and the slick black streets. Couples on their way to dinner and a movie scurried past the window. They walked walked close to the building, slowing when they passed under the awnings, happy to be briefly out of the rain. They wore winter coats and gloves and hats to stave off the chilly high-forties temps. They cuddled together beneath the same umbrella as they walked, awkward as they tried to match their strides to the movement of their partners' bodies.

The owner of the restaurant must have been in a pensive mood that evening, because he'd replaced the usual soundtrack of 1980s American pop with sad love songs in Japanese--the kind of songs you hear over the credits of movies with bittersweet endings. My husband and I, we ate our steaming bowls of nabeyaki udon and curry soba. We didn't talk, but instead watched the steam from our bowls trace curls and swirls into the air in front of us, and condense on the window beside our booth.

When we finished eating, we sat back, warm and full and happy. We didn't say much. We held hands, listened to melancholy songs in a language neither of us really understands, and watched the rain fall.