Bread has been referred to as the staff of life. In fact, Egyptians were baking bread in the 20th century B.C.E. (just an interesting fact in honor of Mom.) However, the notion of human beings banding together for survival ("circling the wagons" so to speak) has been around at least that long. Last night I had both.
After working out with my girlfriend Melanie at Curves (yeah us), I met Anjali for dinner at the Panera Bread Company near the new Nordstrom Rack and DSW Shoes (amazing store, will be doing a separate post soon). I have to tell you, as much as I think that Tukwila is the "armpit of America," this new development is fantastic. Chic, new. I felt like I was living on the Eastside again. The Panera Bread Company's Cafe was both contemporary and comfortable.
The Cafe menu is comprised of reasonably-priced soups (they serve 4-5 different varieties daily), sandwiches, flatbread pizza and wonderful salads. Anjali and I both got the Parisian Chicken Soup, which was a sort of stock-based chicken and mushroom soup. Anjali got the harvest salad - spring greens, Gorgonzola, cranberries, etc. I got the wild salmon salad - spring greens tossed in a Meyers lemon vinaigrette with green beans, red pepper and wheat berries, with small a piece of grilled salmon. I was really pleased. To top it all off, they have a nice fireplace, peaceful ambiance and free wi-fi.
As much as the Cafe was comforting and peaceful, Anjali did more for my mind than any physical space ever could. She's better than the most beautiful sandy beach for calming the soul. As you all know, I've been spending a lot of time since returning from my trip abroad examining my life and what's important to me. Even before I returned from Europe, I knew my friends were one of the things I couldn't live without.
I don't really know how to describe it, but conversations with my friends are enlivening. Conversations with Anjali are a perfect example of this. Even though we were discussing topics rife for complaints such as (1) the difficulties with living a peaceful and healthy life in America - and the pros and cons of Europe vs. the U.S. (yes, I will admit it, there are a few cons to Europe), (2) dating and the nature of men in general; or (3) law school and/or her job, the conversation wasn't a bitch session. Anjali and my other girlfriends have this amazing ability to have conversations that are more of an exploration - first starting with "what is" and then dialoguing about what is possible in the future as a creation.
We didn't leave dinner with the answers to the meaning of life, but rather with the conclusion that life is comprised of the exploration itself. If that is the case, then my quality of life is fantastic because I have such wonderful friends to take with me on my journey.