April 3rd, 1965 – April 3rd, 2008 – Shreesh completes 43 years.
The Mexican way of saying “Happy Birthday” is to sing “La Mañanita“. In Oaxaca, staying as we were in an affluent neighborhood, we would hear mariachis at dawn singing exactly this song, filling the first waking moments of the birthday boy or girl with it. Well I couldn’t really hire mariachis for Shreesh, but he did get his Mañanita sung for him by a really nice Mexican couple at Tulum, in one of the few precious shady spots at the site.
Tulum is a lovely Maya city in the quirky sounding state of Quintana Roo, with an unbeatable view of the ocean. Cooling breezes from the sea uplift the dense cloak of heat that pervades the area since 8:00 in the morning. After staring royally out like a Mayan prince across the ocean like the helpful sign suggested, Shreesh celebrated his birthday by swimming in the cool blue Carribean Sea with the Mayan ruins a forming wonderful backdrop.
In the evening we celebrated by eating at an Italian restaurant that had something no Mexican restaurant seems to have – a good glass of wine. Why is it that we think of Italian food and good wine to celebrate a special occasion? This is not comfort food for us, neither one of us grew up in households that regularly cooked Italian food. It may be that every bite of pasta brings back memories of our life together and we get a chance to re-live those moments. We remember going to Italy for the first time with our close friends Fred and Ada and Jonathan; of taking Italian classes and making lifelong friends there, Liz, Barbara, Jerzy, Ayse and hence Tom and Ian.
We think of our inspirational teacher Francesca whose opera classes opened up a whole new delightful world for us and of studying Dante with Stefania. It also brings back bittersweet memories of Pietro or Peter who is no more with us.
And as the flavors of the tagliatelle combine with the Soave I am drinking, we think of making spaghetti bolognese with Pavarotti blasting in the background, of the numerous happy evenings (and sometime days) spent cooking in our tiny kitchen at 645 Stockton St. Each sip of the Lagrein brings back the many pleasurable evenings at Bacar, one of the first few wine bars in San Francisco, spent learning of and enjoying the various and complex European, American and Australian wines with the help of Andrea Immer’s excellent book. And as the osso buco (even if it was the wrong cut) melts in our mouth, we remember our next door neighbors Salvatore and Amanda, who are getting married this year; Salvatore’s first attempts at hand rolling pasta on the floor; tasting the wonderful wines that Amanda would bring over.
And we remember Tom’s ski cabin up at Tahoe and the many evenings spent drinking wine, eating pasta from the Earthly Delights deli and watching movies like “Coffee and Cigarettes” with our ski cabin buddies after an exhausting day skiing the chutes of Granite Chief or the steep, wonderful slopes of High Yellow at Alpine Meadows ski resort.
Although we may not be rich and successful; we may not have pursued our careers to make loads of money and have houses and cars and kids; we have managed to live our dreams for the past sixteen years and been happy together. My hope and wish for Shreesh is that he continue to see his dreams realized; be it learning Hungarian or studying entomology.
Feliz cumpleaños, Shreesh!