As We Were
I did an event last night at a cafe slash bar in Eastern Market called As You Are. It’s right around the corner from where Phase 1 used to be, DCs lesbian bar. But the neighborhood’s changed beyond recognition.
The owner of the cafe, Jo, is a friend of mine from long, very long ago. We used to work at the same club, not at the same time. But she checked IDs on the same stool and worked the same cashbox and poured drinks behind the same bar. Now she owns a cafe. And I’m a fucking writer. It’s ridiculous.
We were talking about all the bars we frequented when we were coming up, how it always felt like we were in the wrong room, how the staff was always too cool to talk to us, how many times we’d order a drink, finish half of it, and leave. Because we didn’t belong. Then we worked at Badlands/Apex, and we were never cool enough for the clientele—all those people who’d talk to us, finally, because we were pouring the drinks, but were never our friends. But that was 15, 20 years ago.
I’ve been thinking a lot about which friendships last. Which friendships survive the moves and the relationships, the breakups, the job changes, the seeing one another our lowest and at our highest. Which friends you haven’t seen in years then you do and the hug feels like you’ve been hugged.
Last night, I watched a woman work her way up the patio of a cafe, asking if anyone had some change. She was hungry. It’s a scene that plays out on every patio the world over. Usually, eventually, they move on or someone asks them to leave. But this time, someone I know who used to work the door at a different club, whose job it was to ask them to leave, told the woman to have a seat. And Jo gave her a meal.
I think sometimes you just know who someone is from the beginning. Nothing you learn in between changes that.