Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Cafe Verona: A Salve for Many Wounds

My head, throbbing from the bottle of wine I'd drunk the night before, was no match for my throbbing heart. As I waited for my former roommate to arrive at Cafe Verona on La Brea Ave. in West Hollywood, I couldn't help but feel anxious. I pulled the sleeves of my honey colored sweater over my hands, wondering if it would be awkward, wondering if the interaction would feel forced as we both tried to pretend that it was normal to go seven months without seeing each other.

When my roommate moved out last March, I felt like I had broken up with a boyfriend. It was exactly like the episode of "Friends" where Joey gets his own apartment, leaving Chandler behind with crazy Eddie and his dehydrated fruit. While things had been strained between us in the months proceeding our "break-up," I still experienced a profound sense of loss. She was the girl I moved out to LA with. She was the girl who got frozen yogurt with me when I had a bad day at work. She was the girl who would blast '80s music and dance around the apartment with me while we got ready for a night out. It was a shock when she told me she wanted to live alone. I felt abandoned, betrayed and sad for the two girls who used to spend every second of the weekend together -- shopping for cheap clubbing clothes at Forever 21, laughing over "California" paninis at Corner Bakery, going to cheesy romantic comedies at the Grove, and moaning whenever Patrick Dempsey came on screen during "Grey's Anatomy."

After she left, I spent the next few months wondering if it would be possible for us to reconnect -- to rediscover the friendship that had become frayed toward the end of our cohabitation. Even though we had grown a part over the course of the two and a half years that we lived together, even at the end, we were still impossibly close, like sisters. Our relationship was strained, but because of everything we'd been through together, I knew it would never be fully broken. We both just needed time.

While we had run into each other at a party a couple months ago, this past Sunday was the first time we'd made plans to see one another since she packed up her things last spring. I was filled with nervous excitement and anticipation as I drove over to the moss-covered eatery -- like I was going on a date with a former flame. We had so much to catch up on -- so many questions to ask, and mutual friends to gossip about. When she walked into the half-full restaurant, her brown curls flowing freely from her head, I was almost overwhelmed with the familiarity of it all. Time had eroded the pain I felt when she left, and as we began chatting away about our weekends, it felt normal to be sitting there with her.

The throb in my heart finally gone, I was able to attend to other matters - ie. the slight hangover that was threatening to compromise my ability to sit upright. I ordered one of Cafe Verona's specialty frittatas, and heeded the suggestion of our prompt and courteous server who recommended I add roasted tomatoes to my goat cheese and spinach selection. Served with a small mound of sweet potato mash-- a cuddly blanket of starchy goodness, the frittata was the perfect way to mend the fuzziness in my head. Despite the diameter of the nearly plate-sized affair, the frittata was surprisingly light and devoid of the grease garment that many egg dishes wear. I eagerly forked my way through the ambitious serving, and was happy to see that my friend was as eager about the consumption of her panini.

I felt an incredible sense of peace when we said our goodbyes on the corner of 2nd and La Brea after our late brunch. She was headed right down the street to Trader Joe's, and I was headed left, back to my car to go about my Sunday errands. The irony of our positioning didn't escape me. Even though my former roommate and I are no longer travelling in the same direction, it doesn't mean we can't be friends. We can still trade tales of romantic woe. We can still laugh about how lame we were when we first moved to LA. And we can still have brunch. And really good frittatas.


Pepsi Monster said...

*sob* Awww!!

Esi said...

It can definitely be hard to live with someone that you're really close to. I think that's why I have lasted so long (3.5 yrs!) with my roommate...because I hardly know her. I'm glad you guys were able to reconnect though and that it wasn't difficult after all that time apart.

Great "Friends" reference. I love when Eddie buys him and Chandler a "goldfish". Hilarious!

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