Date Night

Rach and I had date night tonight. Since we moved in together she has been asking me to take her on a "real" date and tonight I feel I have finally fulfilled her request. A couple weeks ago I asked her what counts as a "real" date. We go out to dinner all the time. Sometimes we catch a flick afterwards. Most of the time we are with friends. I still have little idea of what entails a "real" date, but I know I went on one tonight. I have been wanting to take her to dinner at a local joint called "La Rustica," since one of my barbers told me to check it out. I have yet to find a good barber in Seattle, but like I told Rach tonight, this guy knows the community, he grew up here, knows how to cut hair, and has a bevy of wonderfully off-color jokes to tell on those days when it's nothing but old salts in the shop. We have a winner!

So, I asked Rach to join me at La Rustica in West Seattle. We arrived at about a quarter to eight. The restaurant is very non-descript and easy to miss, a humble sign proclaims its place on Beach Drive among seemingly endless rows of condos and beach dwellings. Not another business is in sight and even if you were specifically looking for La Rustica you have to be pretty observant to find it. Like I told one of the other couples we were waiting for a table with, "I heard about the place a year ago, spent eight months trying to actually find it, then spent another four months trying to find the best night to visit."

We were greeted by the owner, Giulio, an Italian immigrant. He greeted us in the non-chalant manner of a man who knows he need not compete with other restaurants, his customers are loyal, his food is excellent and even on a Thursday night, there is a line to get into his tiny, efficiently laid out eatery. He took our name and sent us to the teeny-tiny waiting room, back outside and three doors to the right. We walked into the room and two other couples were waiting to be seated. The room was decorated warmly with hastily applied plaster and art from Giulio's homeland but was so cold that seniority ruled over which couple got to sit in front of the space heater he had provided. After a short wait Giulio knocked on the window and motioned for us to follow him to our table. Long story short, we ordered a delicious bottle of wine and bypassed the dinner plates for a couple of very rich, well prepared plates of La Rustica's finest pasta. I had a risotto and sausage dish flavored with Saffron and a TON of butter and Rach had Linguine with truffles and tomato sauce. Both were AWESOME!! We thanked Giulio for his hospitality and continued down the waterfront for after dinner drinks.

We have a little Irish pub called the Celtic Swell on the Alki beachfront. I thought this might be a nice place to wind down since they always seem to have great live acoustic music when visit. We stopped in and after splitting a bottle of red wine at La Rustica felt immediately comfortable getting to know the people sitting on the barstools next to us. Little did we know that we were being sized up for Thursday night Celtic Swell poker!! We threw down a few rounds of Texas Hold 'em and a few Irish whiskeys while we were at it and before we knew it, Rach had won back the few measly bets I had made (I got rocked), and we were on our way home. On the way home, Rach talked to a long time friend who will be leaving on a tour of duty with the army soon and it sounds like we plan to spend New Year's Eve in Portland with her, so all of you Portland types, we're gonna need a place to crash!

Finally, the reason I sat down to write this post at such an ungodly hour. After returning from the pub and tucking my sweetheart in, I walked outside to let Rocky do his thing. I was thinking to myself, 'man was it great to be out in the countryside at Rach's parents place for Christmas.' I thought about hearing that train roll through Tangent late at night while I was trying to sleep. It reminded me of sleeping at my family's cabin in North Bend, Nebraska, where we heard the trains rolling through all night long. At that moment, standing outside my house in West Seattle, I heard something I've never heard here before. I heard a train whistle blow, I heard the wheels clickety-clack across the tracks on Harbor Island and I even heard the bells of the crossings as the night train roared through our sleeping city. I know for a fact that those trains did not just start running tonight. I have just never stopped or slowed down enough to listen to them. The whole time I've been living here, the trains have been running. This happy sound that brought me back to those times at my family's cabin has been blaring outside of my own house this whole time without me ever noticing!

What I'm trying to say is, slow down, stop, take a breath and don't forget to take in all that is around you as you hurtle through these complicated times.....


dad said...

It sounds like the evening was perfectly romantic (if Texas Hold'em could possibly fit in that category). It also allowed you to get off the merry-go-round long enough to hear the whistles blowing. With all that has been going on with me these past few months, I keep centered by doing a similar thing every day. I drive to Chalco Hills Recreation Area for the sunrise, catch glimpses of a few whitetail deer, and read the morning paper while geese and ducks yell at each other on the lake in front of me. Really sets the right attitude for whatever else the workday may bring.

joanne said...

Oh my God, Joe! I am sitting here reading a new book, "The History of Love", I haven't a clue what it is about, other than Claire said it was good. It's about an old Jewish man, whose family all died in Poland (enough said) and his life in New York....I haven't even made it to page 15 and I am already hooked, noting to myself how wonderful it is when a story captures you, when a writer knows how to use words, short and sweet. And then I stop long enough to check email, and of course our mutual blogs....and read this! I have said it before and I will say it here for all the world to see. You are a wonderful writer! I always believed that you would make a fine biologist, an artist, an industrial designer, an architect, a writer, a teacher, ... in short anything you put your heart into... I know now because it is you have the gift of observation, the intuition to watch and listen... and not just because you heard the train that night, (or that you painted such a sweet picture and that I am a hopeless romantic, ok, maybe a little) but for how you take in the world and how you return the favor with a patiient and generous spirit. OK, this is now certainly a response too long and now too public, but instead of hitting delete I will click "publish" and risk embarassing you to your family and friends. Joe, as with my new book, you have the gift of storytelling and that your stories are filled with the Adventures of Joe and Rachel, make it all the sweeter.

Mum said...

Yes, my Joe, there are train whistles there and here and I am glad you had a chance to catch them! Kind of a gift to you at the end of an already great day. Question for you: see your email :)

Anonymous Midwest Girl said...

Chris and I will have to hit that restaurant next time we visit; it sounds delish! Can I say I totally thought that post was going to end with, "Long story short, we're engaged!"