She was there at the train station when I arrived.
I had under my arm a bottle of wine I’d procured from the liquor store inside the station. We embraced, gratefully and somewhat awkwardly, like war buddies, or like distant relatives who hadn’t seen one another since a family function years before.
But once we got into the car, we picked up where we’d last left off, as though a bookmark had been placed there. She exuded empathy and excitement at my various life projects and plans. I picked my way carefully through her words. It had been a hard couple of months. It was disorienting to experience such solidarity.
We made our way through gnarled Montreal rush hour traffic to a tiny neighbourhood bistro, P’tit Plateau. I’d found it online. I had a good feeling about it. I hoped it would bring the flavours of Paris back. I hoped it would give our friendship the environment it needed to restore itself, like a plant placed in just the right spot.
Service and the food were flawless. My bottle of wine was uncorked and poured, and we drank and ate our way through a conversation full of art, kids, houses, and the stresses and strains and joys of following your dream.
I had a perfectly cooked duck breast with fresh figs and creamy potatoes.
She ordered a salad so plain and so fragrantly delicious I was transported back to France.
Around us there was passionate eating and gesticulating and conversing.
Body and soul, and friendship, restored, over a simple but lovely meal.