September 23rd: A sunny day in Midtown Atlanta that shone just a bit brighter because of you.
Photo by Einstein’s
To all of us “dating with intent” in the big city, they say it comes with time. With patience. With experience. With all those things that you have to grow into and make mistakes in order to discover. But no one ever said dating would be this hard, did they? No, I’m sure they didn’t; I surely would have remembered that. Or maybe it’s just another one of those things rolled into the “living is hard, being an adult ain’t easy” mantras the grown folks used to warn us of growing up. Because, I didn’t envision it like this. I distinctly remember envisioning flying on a magic carpet “seeing a whole new world” like Jasmine or enduring the harshness of the world only until I deservedly met my prince charming and the glass slipper just fit, effortlessly. Clearly, I’m no Meghan Markle and this ain’t Disney.
I didn’t envision 40 days passing between each time my love and I could see each other. Didn’t envision picking him up from the airport excitedly but knowing that in 36 hours I’d be disappointed again as another 30-40 days passed before our next kiss. Yet, that is the circumstance under which I ate this meal.
DeMarcus and I met the good ole’ fashioned way: my cousin thought we’d hit it off and introduced us while I was back home on a visit last summer. Well, really, first he sent DeMarcus a picture of me—which he responded enthusiastically to—then he invited him over that evening for us to meet. We hit it off, easily, organically; over a year later, we’re still together and roughing this long-distance thing out, taking it day by day. We have the same ups and downs as most couples, with the added burden of distance. But, so they say, “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” and we’ve found that to be true too.
So, on the way to pick him up from the airport I was trying to think of place that might please both our taste buds and that would be a good place to kill some time before the Falcons took on the Saints, a game we had tickets to and had been excited about seeing for weeks. I decided on Einstein’s in Midtown Atlanta. If you’re looking for an eatery that puts a creative spin on Southern brunch, you’ve come to the right place. Not to mention, that strip on Juniper Street is great for bar hopping and the occasional day party as well. 😉
We parked a block away because Midtown parking is always ridiculous, even at 10 a.m. on a Sunday, and were seated outside under the trees on the patio. Of course, we weren’t the only brunch-goers there; hipster couples, eclectic groups of friends and other couples joined us, braving the steadily climbing heat and outdoor party crashers that like to occasionally land on your food. I was horrified—really, horrified—when I realized that we’d come to brunch so early in the morning that mimosas couldn’t even be served yet. One of the real pitfalls of living in the Bible Belt: you can’t buy a drink before 12:30 p.m. or so on Sundays, a ludicrous ban from somewhere back in the Stone Age that we somehow haven’t overthrown and stomped to the ground yet.
I nodded my understanding to the waiter with a pleasant Southerner’s grin that really said, “Fuck you,” and turned to the menu to decide what might make up for such a slight to my brunch routine. For some reason I still don’t understand, DeMarcus decided on the classic Southern staple, Shrimp and Grits. Einstein’s S&G boasted spicy shrimp, green beans, patak’s andouille sausage and sambal. Now, why a born-and-raised Louisiana guy would dare order Shrimp and Grits from a brunch spot (albeit, a Southern brunch spot), I have no idea. It’s like setting yourself up to fail; it’s never going to be as good as “back home.” You gotta go to the dive bars and food shacks where they call you “Baby” for that, not the ones where grad students are serving brunch to yuppies on an outdoor patio. I knew this but apparently he didn’t, and to this day he still insists he narrowly missed food poisoning because the shrimp wasn’t cooked right. I think he might be being just a tad dramatic.
Photo by Einstein’s
I ordered the Bourbon & Banana French Toast with white chocolate curls and peanut butter glaze, which was delicious in that way that all decadent items heaped sweet upon sweet are. It wasn’t the time of day for their steak over Smoked Pimento Mac & Cheese or for one of their infamous desserts, but these are a few of my favorites I’ve had there over the years.
Photo by Einstein’s
And there we sat underneath the shade of the trees, watching runners jog by with their dogs and playfully antagonizing each other on who would win the Falcons/Saints game. With more time to kill, we took a stroll through Piedmont Park. We walked hand in hand, a sappy gesture of PDA he does because I like it. He pretended he’d push me in the standing, stagnant water Piedmont Park calls a pond to freak me out and I, in turn, pretended to push him back. We laughed and carried on, half sweating when the shade broke and we were assaulted by the noon-day sun, then offered reprieve from the heat where the trees gathered again. It was during this stroll that we somehow stumbled upon the “kid talk.” It was prompted by me telling him about my annual visit to the OBGYN earlier that week, a visit where my doctor came out and said, “Sooooo, you’re 31. What are we doing about babies?”
She’s straight to the point, that one!
For anyone in my age bracket—or who has already had the experience of being around this age—you know that this talk is damn-near commonplace once you reach a “certain age.” My Instagram and Facebook have been littered with anecdotes from high school friends who are also facing this conversation with their peers and loved ones; this one was recently on my IG thread:
Me when I’m 30 with no kids
Doctor: ur biological clock is ticking
Me: tik tok on the clock but the party dont stop no
Of course, we’re also in the South and the birth rate has dropped about 30% from past decades, so of course this question is going to come up. But, I wasn’t expecting it, really. I guess she saw my look of surprise, or appall—whichever—and remarked, “This is your annual check-up, so I may not see you again for another year. With that in mind, now’s the time to start talking about this.”
Of course, we laughed about it. DeMarcus’s mom is an OBGYN, and he has two kids of his own, so he’s familiar with the “talk” and aware of what it means to be in your 30s (albeit, early 30s) with no kids. “Do you want one?” is always the question on people’s lips when they find out you don’t have one. I told him that one day when we’re both ready, if we’re together for as long as we hope, I’d like to have one with him. He agreed he’d like it too. Then there was some raunchy joking between us, the gist of which you all get already, and that was that, the start to our two days together, the start to what may one day be another chapter in our lives.
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