Intentional Living—Oakland, California.
The hug was warm and genuine. The waitress looked at me through moist eyes as I let her go. “You have a great flight home, and you stop in and see me again when you come back to San Ramon.”
“I will…I promise,” I said with a grin.
Su Mai, a freckle-faced Asian waitress, had become more than a food server to me. During my business trip to the central office, her bright smiling face had been a welcome side accompaniment to the main course for three meals in a row. The first meal was entirely her choice. “Surprise me,” had been my reply to her standard inquiry. “I am on an adventure, you see. A quest for the enlightenment to be found in the flavor of spice on my tongue, and the last drop in the bottom of a glass.”
“Oooh…” she demurred. “I think I have just the thing. You drink?”
“Never alone,” I said with a smile.
“I be right back.”
I watched Su Mai practically dance off in the direction of the kitchen. I wondered what on Earth could be so delicious. While she was gone, I contented myself with looking around the spacious dining room. Businessmen were gathered around the bar engaging in boisterous bouts of joviality centered on talk of football and big data. I smiled. Little did they know that the woman sitting at the table nearby was eavesdropping with an understanding ear, and loving every minute.
A waiter of indeterminate nationality wandered by toward the garden where a group of women were huddled laughing at a newly-opened gift laying on the lap of a cute young brunette in a mini dress and tiara. Ah, a bridal shower, I thought. The waiter lit the fire in the garden fire pit and turning, caught sight of whatever-it-was lying in her lap, and blushed. I snickered.
Su Mai returned bearing a dish full of what appeared to be four tacos and a tall glass of mint limeade. “I make these myself,” she said, beaming with pride. “They not on menu yet. I take break now, sit with you while you eat?”
“Absolutely, yes!” She sat down across from me and watched with an anxious eye for my assessment of the first bite. The heat was on. I hadn’t felt pressure like this in years—not since I had made love to my first hubby with a pair of doggie eyes peering up over the edge of his bed.
I am 100 percent positive that it wasn’t the pressure, or the fact that I had used the hotel workout room earlier and was famished. But the delight that was mine traveled from my tastebuds to my brain and back again in a burst of delight that rivaled anything one might hear on a pay-per-view channel. “Oh…my…God!”
The noise of the lunch crowd had died down, and several of the businessmen turned to look. In my ecstasy-induced dazed condition, it was as if the clouds had parted and Su Mai’s gleaming face had taken on the luminescence of an angel. “You like?” she asked.
“Like? Su Mai. Like is an understatement, these are divine. What on Earth…”
“It’s seafood teriyaki taco in coconut flour shell, the drink is a rum mojito limeade. I get new job next week as chef. This recipe go on new menu. You are first guest to eat.”
“Oh, Su Mai…I feel honored.” I had come in search of enlightenment, and had found it at the hands of a humble but talented waitress. I pressed my hands together and bowed. “I know you are going to be an awesome chef, and I am proud to know that I was the first to eat this dish when you become rich and famous.”
“You come back tonight, I make you special dish. Braised rib on parsnip mash with candy vegetable.”
The rest, of course, was history. With each meal I learned more of Su Mai’s story. Sold into slavery, runaway, rescued, redeemed, she was an old brave soul in a delicate birdlike body—petite and fragile, but bold and brave. Sitting together, laughing, and eating her wonderful concoctions became the highlight of my trip. Sure, the job interview went well (at least I think it did), but I have been wrong about such things before.
The one thing I know for sure is that my notions of what it means to be brave in the face of adversity paled in comparison to the bravery of my newfound friend. And I will never again question the power of any force in heaven and hell to break, bend, or mar—and then mend—the divine soul of a person whose will is at one with creation.Browse Front PageShare Your Idea