I sit at an outside patio table of a sushi restaurant in the neighbourhood where I grew up. The neighbourhood has changed. It's gotten richer and ritzier. Used to be that this 5 x 3 block of shops and cafes and restaurants was a bit more low-key, expensive, but low-key. Now the emblematic bookstore has moved out, and Hermes has moved in. The Jeeps and tatty old Range Rovers have mostly been replaced. The cars that drive through the small streets looking for parking spaces are a mix of foreign sports cars and massive luxury SUVs. The people who frequent the cafes and restaurants are thinner and tanner. The ladies wear high-heels. Used to be that this neigbourhood was more hippy. Chic, but hippy. More Birkenstock than Manolo.
I don't live here anymore, so I don't really mind. I'm merely observing the changes as I sip on my miso soup and munch on my edamame.
I am dining alone, a feat achieved by lying to my father. I told him I was meeting a friend. I wasn't. I just wanted to get away from him and stroll through the old, but new, neighbourhood.
I take a sip of Chardonnay and listen to the conversation at the table next to mine. There are three girls and boy, probably in their late 20s. I could probably figure out at least one of their ages exactly because she comments that the 2nd Bush term had nothing to do with her because she was only 17 and couldn't vote. She is really beautiful: long dark, not-frizzy, but very kinky hair with sun-touched natural highlights; beautifully shaped, full lips and a lovely tan. Her eyes are hidden by a very fashionable pair of designer sunglasses.
One of the girls is new to the others so I have heard the introductions. They are all from California. One of them laughs and asks the others why they are in the mountains and how they like it. She is very petite and opinionated. Her slick, straight dark hair is pulled back in a tight pony tail. When one of them asks about the debt crisis, this one has all the answers. She seems bright.
The boy looks bored and leaves before the conversation is finished. He only interrupts the stream of words in order to give the petite, opinionated one a kiss on the cheek. After he leaves, she shows off her engagement ring to girls.
The third girls is heavy in comparison to the other two. She stays quiet the whole time. I wonder if she feels like a fish out of water.
The girl with the beautifully shaped, full lips wants to get back to the previous conversation. She asks a question, which stumps the petite, opinionated one: "So, where did we find the money to increase the debt ceiling?"