So, my partner is out of town on business (which I remembered only when he woke me up this morning to say "See you tomorrow, sweetie" to which I responded "See you tomorrow?! What the hell does that mean?!") and I took advantage of his absence to indulge in one of my fav rituals of single life. Namely, dinner alone at il vicino, with the most recent issue of my favorite magazine and a glass of red wine. If you show up early, and it's not a weekend night, no one cares if you occupy a table for a couple of hours and dawdle over your crusts.
I stood in line behind a couple who smiled with me about il vicino's "pizza dough for playing," which is handed out to all young customers. I sat a few tables away from these folks and almost immediately a very loud and friendly couple sat between us and announced they were from out of town. Rather than being offended by the un-ignorable interruption, the couple started chatting with them about what to see and do in Abq. and answered questions about Old Town and elsewhere. I jumped in after a bit to recommend that the out-of-towners could ask the waitress for a sample of the il vicino brown they'd expressed an interest in, which she kindly did. Another friendly woman who flies helicopters for the air force (I just have to mention that "I fly helicopters" is a kickass answer to "what do you do?") is just in town while stationed briefly at Kirtland and she spoke up to tell the visitors about the tram and a couple of Santa Fe attractions she likes. We both waxed poetic about the allures of 10,000 Waves. We were mentioning businesses and sightseeing spots and saying "Oh yeah! That place is great!" in excited voices. If anything, the people from out of town were overwhelmed with info. about Albuquerque and Santa Fe and, I hope, left with a good impression of our town and her citizens.
I bumped into the first couple again as I was unlocking my bike in front of ecco gelato and had a nice chat about bikes and the great neighborhoods we have. It was an unexpectedly pleasant night (not that I figured I'd have a bad time, it was just really nice). Sometimes it's good to have a reason to talk up your town to people who don't know it or to meet folks in your neighborhood who seem to enjoy it as much you do. It can be a reminder that, even when times are rough and looking to get rougher, people are generally decent and we have a lot going for us in Abq., not just in the businesses we can frequent, but in the neighborhoods and communities we inhabit and the people we don't even know who are our neighbors.
The night wouldn't be complete though, without a mention of the journey home. I was almost run over on my bike at Silver and Yale by a guy in a Mini Cooper who told me to get on the sidewalk. I replied "Bikes are supposed to be in the street." I started to tell him (in my best goody-two-shoes voice) that he could check out all the laws regarding bikes online, but he cut me off to say "Get out of my way, bitch" before pealing off in his oh-so-tough emblem of british thrift and german engineering. Ah, Albuquerque. In some respects I guess we do have a way to go, or I might just have to accept that some things'll always be the same. Home sweet home.