The Gathering, a restaurant in my neighborhood that has been a local institution for 28 years, is closing tomorrow and it makes me very sad. It is most aptly named, truly a gathering.
I have made friends there, I am comfortable there. Jack, the jovial bartender, knows how I like my vodka tonic with Absolute and not much tonic, and my beer on ice.
I can go by myself and not feel alone, knowing that there will always be lively conversation. This is an "old fashion" (whatever that means) place. There is a magician on the weekends-- a magician for heaven sakes. Who does that anymore? And they love children and old people from the senior living center around the corner--walkers and canes are welcomed and accommodated. There is also a guitar player on the weekends who plays my music--music of the 60's. But he also plays music of the 90's and everything in between, and young and middle-aged people frequent the bar, although it clearly tips in the AARP direction. There is a fire house across the street and when a fire engine comes out with sirens blaring, drinks are half price for two minutes.*
We "regulars" have all been commiserating together--where will we go? How will we find each other? Yes, another restaurant will open in the same location and more new restaurants are coming to my neighborhood. But they will be loud and trendy and most likely have a revolving cast of 20-30 something bartenders.
It is not just the closing of our local watering hole that makes us so sad. It is the end of a life that was slower and quieter, more private and more personal-- life before smart phones and email and Facebook. This closing is vivid reminder of all that has gone before and is no more, a lifetime spent thinking all was possible.
I know that change is inevitable. My grandchildren are constant reminders of future possibilities. But I also know that come next weekend there will be a hole in my life and an ache in my heart.