I sat in Central Bistro waiting for my friend to meet me for lunch.
I’d been in the room countless times before, perhaps in this exact same space, but the layout, the tables and chairs, and even the walls were different.
The restaurant used to be Zen 32, the neighborhood Japanese restaurant that offered a late-night sushi happy hour. I’d met friends there before on many occasions, even had a date or two there many years ago. I think the VIP card is still somewhere in my desk for sentimental reasons.
Since it had been a few years since I sat in that room, I had a difficult time envisioning its former occupant. The brick walls of the bistro give the room a much different vibe than the dark walls of Zen 32. I remember the piece of art that hung on one wall, the work of an artist friend of mine who has since moved out of the country. The large screen in the bar used to show Japanese animation and paintbrushes sat in containers of water at the bar that you could use to draw on a board where it would remain only briefly before it disappeared.
When you live in a city for several years, it’s not surprising to see businesses come and go. The Coffee Plantation where I first met my husband is now a True Food restaurant that we visited several years later with our three children. (They didn’t seem impressed that they were seated almost at the very spot of our meeting place).
The Borders bookstore where I spent countless hours looking at books during my single days is now a carpet store. Our neighborhood Sweet Tomatoes, a favorite family spot where we’ve gone with my sister and her family when they visited town, met preschool families there for a school fundraiser and visited countless times as a family, closed last fall. I first went even before I met my husband. When we started going together, we had an infant who ate the mashed sweet potatoes and when it closed, our three boys were able to go up to the food counter and serve themselves. The building is now under construction and now we go to a different Sweet Tomatoes, but it doesn’t bring back the same memories.
Time passes, businesses come and go, buildings are renovated into something new. Our memories, if we’re lucky, are the only things that remain.