Something old, something new
I recognised the sweater right away. One of those heavy knit things his mother probably made. Cream-coloured yarn and a thick cable knit, but I couldn’t work out how I knew it. Or the masked man wearing it.
“Hello,” he said. He and his wife and young son stopped on the footpath a few metres from where I sat on a bench. I’d taken a seat to watch Dan Andrews on my phone give his daily press conference. Another triple digit day.
Gertrude Street Enoteca back in the day.
Dismayed, I stared back at the man. “Hello,” I said, still trying to place him. My daughter came running up. We’d been playing kick.
“Hi!” she said.
“How’ve you been?” he said. “You’ve gotten big!”
She liked that. “Can’t wait to come see you again!
“I’d love that,” the man said, looked at his family, then back to my daughter. “But we’re closing for good now.”
And then I remembered. He was a chef at Enoteca, a wine bar and restaurant on Gertrude Street near our house. I’d been taking my daughter there for hot chocolates after school for years.
“So we can’t go to Enoteca ever again?” she asked. She’s eight, still hopeful.
“Not to Enoteca,” he said, “But someplace else. With new friends. There’ll be all sorts of new things to explore when this over.”
We said our goodbyes and headed off. My daughter ran ahead, kicking the soccer ball down the foot path. When I caught up, she’d found a friend who lives nearby out walking her Westies. We hadn’t seen the woman in months. I told her about Enoteca.
“It’s so sad,” I said.
“You’re kidding? They’re closing?”
“That’s what he said.”
“I’m signing the lease on a wine bar and distillery this afternoon!” she said.
“That place you’ve been after for years?”
“I got the owner to negotiate! It’s gonna be complicated. COVID restrictions and everything. And obviously, we’re not opening for a while, but we’ve got financial protection. Crazy exciting!”
“I’m so happy for you!” I teared up, wanted to hug her, but we kept our distance and air-hugged instead. Then the dogs started tugging at their leads, and she had to get back to sign the papers.
While my daughter and I stood at the corner and waited to cross, I watched my friend walking home. How excited she must be.
“So when this is over we can go to her place for hot chocolates after school!” my daughter said. “That’s pretty good!”
I looked to my left. I could just make out that cream-coloured sweater down the footpath, the man and his wife and son holding hands, getting smaller in the distance.
The light changed for us, and I looked ahead. “Yes, it’s pretty good,” I said.
Aubrey Perry is a regular contributor.
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