Sneaking Romance into the Work Week
Last night, we maneuvered city streets, wove in and out of rush-hour traffic, and held creased paper map outstretched. “The parking ramp should be right here, on Chicago and Lake Street.” Yellow awnings flapped cheerily in the winter breeze, and snow melted into slush. After a u-turn and my man’s skilled stick-shifting, we slipped into a dark cement stall.
Inside the global market, vendors with Middle Eastern hummus and gyros stood beside Vietnamese bubble teas, Chinese kungpao chicken, Asian curries, Swedish biscuits and lingonberry jams. Mexican salsa verdes and corn husk tamales lined side alleys, while an American diner inside boasted cheeseburgers and “the best fries in town.” Hand in hand, my husband and I meandered the halls, trying not to get lost in the rows of stalls and shops. A wooden giraffe towered over me near a Ghanian stall selling spotted goat horn rings. In the next shop, veiled Somali women leaned regally across counters, elegant and robed, their golden jewelry wares dangling from shop walls.
In the center of the market,the ceiling broke away into sunny glass skylights. On a stage, musicians gathered, unpeeling and unfolding conga drums, baritone saxes, flutes, and guitars from their protective wraps. Nathanael and Friends, the 5:30-6:30 pm set, were three African-American men whose smiles split faces.We shook hands, talked of sound systems, drums, and the drummer’s Marine tour of duty overseas. As they built up audience participation, we played “Guess that artist” to a Doobie Brothers’ song from my past, and Marco was called up to drum with them for a song.
Shoulders touching, we bent over sesame chicken, and slurped a cold chai bubble tea. Resting back against our chairs, we bobbed in time to folk rock. Pink-clad Latina pequenas danced nearby, while a proud grandma smiled and tugged their clothing straight. Nine to fivers headed home, weary from the day, nodding heads to the beat as they crossed the marketplace. Moms grabbed an easy supper for Cars Two-toting preschool boys, and a produce cashier danced in time, drumming against his right thigh to the beat, oranges stacked high beside him.
“Celebrate good times, come on!” belted the trio, whaling away on the sax, drum and guitar.
Man and I leaned over the last sips of bubble tea, kissed, and picked up our purchases. Injera bread, hummus, and guava nectar were for another day, another date. Holding hands, we walked out of the market and across the street, into normal.
Rekindling the romance in our marriages can be done on a shoe string, on a Thursday. The sun set across Minneapolis, staining pink against leafless trees and stark red branches. We grinned, held hands, catching glances across the stick shift and traffic. “That was fun,” we breathed, steam brushing up against frosted windows. Traffic whirred by. We fell silent, relaxed and happy in the twilight.
Pink-stained trees dipped into snowbanks, and we chose romance.
Linking with Emily at Imperfect Prose.