Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Andy and his boss had a business meeting in Houston yesterday, and I got to tag along. It was all sort of divinely timed. I suppose that everything is, isn't it? But we don't tend to think of things like business trips as something that God would bore Himself with. However, I'm convinced that He was at work with this one. Andy originally alerted me of the trip last week, and thought that he and Eric would head down south then, but their business contact needed more time, for whatever reason, and so the trip was pushed ahead. I think it was the same day that I found out about the possibility of a trip that I received an email from my friend, the recently hyphenated, Elizabeth Korver-Glenn. She and her new hubby have just moved to Houston, and my mind leaped at the possibility of hitching a ride to Houston and catching lunch with my friend.
I contacted Elizabeth with the idea, and she let me know what days would be available on her schedule. At the last moment on Monday evening, Andy alerted me that the meeting would take place on Tuesday. I confirmed that this day was open on Elizabeth's schedule, and so it was that Andy and I were Houston-bound on Tuesday morning.
Since the details of the trip were never fine tuned, Andy and I rode down together in our car, while Eric drove in his, so I suppose I didn't get to actually "hitch" a ride on Opsci's dime, but it was lovely to get to ride with Andy, and spend a weekday with him. And, wouldn't you know, God provided that gas money anyhow. We ended up getting an unexpected 60 dollars from the Army just today, which covered the gas we spent going to Houston- another reason I think God was behind the timing of this unexpected little trip.
Andy unloaded at a gas station just within the Houston limits and joined Eric to go and do business things, while I scooted along by myself to City Centre, where I was to meet Elizabeth for lunch. We dined at Ruggles Green, Houston's first "green" restaurant. I confess I'm put-off that there isn't one in Austin (I checked the internet today and Houston is hogging all that yumminess to themselves, so far). I know that Austin has its own assemblage of organic eateries, but I'm intimidated by such places. I feel like I need to be wearing Tom's or at least have doused myself with Patchouli to venture to any restaurant with the word "green" in the name (unless it's Winston-Salem's Village Green or Tavern on the Green in New York, for which I would wear something expensive-looking and say, "bon apetite!" without another thought) So I appreciate that Elizabeth so bravely scouted out this place for us. I'd rather just keep on with a known entity than risk wasting valuable dining out cash on something that might not be pumped with hormones but ends up tasting like the organic dirt it was grown in. Just saying.
Ruggles Green proved to be completely delicious, though. I was a little early, so I spent a while sitting outside until Elizabeth got there. It was a perfect day. Elizabeth, also a North Carolina girl, and I both think we've been duped by this tame summer and crisp fall. We're fairly certain that Texas is lying to us at the moment, but we're not complaining. Anyway, I sat in the shade, wearing a three-quarter length tee and a favorite scarf, jeans and sunglasses. There was a really beautiful fountain nearby, and the sound of business men and women dining on healthy eats. The smells were delicious! I'm okay with a green restaurant boasting its freshness when you can smell the arugula at the table next to you! I was practically lusting after what appeared to be a fine tomato bisque when my friend arrived, looking as lovely as I have ever seen her.
Ruggles Green offers inside and outside seating areas, but you must order at the counter. Imagine Jason's Deli, but ten times more delicious. And, I'm pretty sure that at Jason's, the employees don't wear t-shirts with the imprint of a little marijuana leaf and the words, "We love hemp. (Brownies)" Apparently, Ruggles Green makes a famous "high protein" brownie with hemp seed. Still, a seven-pointed leaf and reference to brownies takes the mind in a certain direction. But I was too focused on a word that I spotted on the menu to care too much. Andy's been tossing this word around for weeks and weeks- hydroponic. We saw a news report one evening on a restaurant owner/urban farmer who has finely tuned his hydroponic garden on the rooftop of his New York restaurant. We were both interested, but Andy was particularly entranced by this soil-less method of agriculture. Ever since then, he's tossed out random comments about how he wants to start a hydroponic garden. If we had the space I wouldn't be opposed. It's pretty fascinating science- but actually isn't new to me at all. The first time I was introduced to soil-less farming was on a tour of Epcot center when I was probably about ten years old. Anyway, Ruggles Green boasted a "hydroponic butter lettuce salad" and I was sold immediately. I barely looked at the rest of the ingredients before I ordered it. I was just so thrilled to report to Andy that I was going to feast on hydroponic lettuce for lunch. Fortunately, the rest of the salad was filled with other favorite- tomatoes, avocadoes, bacon and blue cheese crumbles, all doused with Ranch dressing. Pretty green-tastic.
Elizabeth and I caught up on life. It's always lovely to meet up with her. We share some uncommon things in common. For example, we were born the same day, two years apart. We have both been to Mongolia (confession, here, I have only been to Mongolia because Elizabeth has been to Mongolia. She introduced me to VetNet back in 2005, but she spent two years there teaching English, while I was back in the 'Ville teaching Biology) We both ran the Chicago marathon, together. We both got accepted to Dallas Theological Seminary and both turned down the offer. We both think that the religious right, isn't always right. We both asked, both waited, and both received the man that God chose to be our husbands. And now we have both been transplanted to Texas. But, most importantly, we both love Jesus. And He and His mission for us is what we love to talk about.
We get together about once a year, usually over food or coffee and talk about who He is to us, and what He's telling us to do. Elizabeth is a person filled with unique beauty. Very strong. Very God-dependent. And also very independent of other people. Though she is brilliant, a linguist, budding anthropologist, and one of the most globally-minded people I know, she is easily amazed by Abba's provision and character, I've seen her so filled with the Holy Spirit that, I kid you not, her already luminous blue eyes once actually glowed as she spoke some word that He had given to her over a lunch at Ruby Tuesday's a few years ago. I've never seen anything quite like it. Someone like that might be intimidating if they weren't humble. When I think of the false witnesses who intimidate, manipulate and boast, I know that the Elizabeths of the world are their FOIL.
The only problem with meeting with Elizabeth is that time is always too short. She and her husband had a date night planned, and Andy's meeting finished in the mid-afternoon, so we hugged and parted ways, confident that the Lord has been, is and will continue to care and lead one another.
Nothing is sweeter than waiting on Andy and seeing him arrive. It is the best part of every day. At home, I often sit on the porch with the dogs reading around the time that I expect him home. He always smiles when his truck turns the corner. That smile is the most precious thing ever, it is literally impossible not to smile back. So it was yesterday afternoon, when Eric dropped Andy off at City Centre, so that he could meet up with me after their meeting. That smile flashed in the passenger's seat, and though I'd had to say good-bye to my friend, I was excited at the idea of having a weekday afternoon to spend with my favorite person in the world.
We decided to go downtown, but we were unsure of the directions. We stopped off at a gas station, where I went in for a bathroom break. I returned with a Cherry Coke, and no sooner had I taken a swig before Andy said, "Do you want to go to the beach?" This is one of my favorite things about Andy- actually, maybe it's a favorite thing about our marriage- we are always having "'ventures." We go somewhere new almost every weekend, to a new park or restaurant or something. But an unplanned 'venture in the middle of the week!? What could be more fun than that?
Andy Google mapped the way on his Droid, and we set out toward Galveston. From what I've heard, Galveston is nothing special when it comes to beaches. And I'm quoting Texans here, not even those of us who grew up smelling salt breezes all summer long. But, I must confess, a sunny October afternoon on a nearly empty beach is priceless- no matter where you are. Even Galveston.
We strolled up and down the beach, picking up pieces of Sand Dollars and sea glass. I was bare-foot, jeans rolled up mid-calf. My navy-blue jacket absorbed the fading sun's golden rays, and I felt warm and comfortable inside it. Andy chased down sand crabs and tried to dig up sand-fiddlers in the saturated sand nearest the waning tide. We walked East, casting a long shadow, one side of it short, the other tall, a blur in the middle- the shadow of some lopsided two-headed monster, or people holding on to one another's waists.
I am not a romantic. You know that famous kissing scene in "From Here to Eternity"? The one where the waves come rushing up on the shore and the people are sucking face in bathing suits that at the time were probably scandalous but now would be considered modest (though that guy's shorts were really short) Anyway, that sort of thing just makes me uncomfortable. Which is why I say I'm not romantic. I'd trade intertwined fingers and crab-chasing for rolling around in the surf any day. It's still love, though. Yesterday wasn't just a lovely day at the beach with my sweet husband, it was a love-filled day. Love as safe as childhood. Love that knows no fear.
We grabbed a $5 Little Caesar's on the way off the island and spent the ride home reading (me, not Andy) chatting about books, and missions and plans for the next couple of weeks. And that was that. A sweet day. With sweet friends. And so sweet of God to arrange all of that in the midst of life, which crashes and subsides like those waves we witnessed yesterday.