It was time to get some actual work done. I had an article due at the end of the week, and it was one I was looking forward to writing. It was 3 am and there was a stillness to the night, or morning, that I found particularly calming. It can either be easy, or very difficult to write about subjects dear to you. My retrospective on Roman and Williams was both. The obvious reason being that my deep admiration for their work was so intertwined with my friendship with Millie.
I decided to begin the article with two places in particular: The John Dory Oyster Bar and Lafayette Grand Café. The ease in writing about these two places was rooted in the sheer number of hours Millie and I wasted at each location throughout undergrad. The difficulty was being distracted by how much those moments meant to me.
The John Dory Oyster Bar was a favorite of ours, because despite being located in a newly glitzy part of town and belonging to a slick hotel chain, it conveyed a family-owned energy. Most people would think of that as a slight, but I genuinely mean it as a compliment. The mounted fish alluded to the idea that the owner was a true fishing enthusiast. The kelly green steel beams hanging down from the ceiling and the giant fish bowls mounted like sconces from the wall brought the nautical theme alive in an unexpected and delightful way. Millie and I had once stayed there well over three hours, discussing everything under the sun, and only arguing about what the fish above the bar should be named. I maintain that obviously Harold & Kumar make more sense than Laverne & Shirley.
Lafayette Café is the type of brassiere you could visit everyday and never tire of. What I mean is, it perfectly meets all your expectations of what a French inspired brasserie should be and surprises you with a few elements you hadn't heretofore imagined. The color scheme has those deep reds, chocolaty browns and mustard yellows one has grown to associate with comfortable French dining, but instead of being supported by that sort of dirty ivory backdrop ubiquitous in French cafes, architectural trims here are painted bright white, making these staple colors sing out more than they normally do. The seating is made up of sumptuous leather booths and those bentwood chairs that you could not have a proper cafe without, but they've stopped short of tarting the place up with French posters from days gone by. The ceiling looks to be a continuous cork surface over which has been laid wood sticking in a rectangular pattern. This material move is totally in keeping with the time period Roman and Williams sought to evoke, but one which lesser designers would have overlooked as not fancy enough to merit a place in such an interior. Here it serves the dual purpose of adding warmth and dampening sound in what would otherwise likely be a very noisy interior. Taken together, the effect of these reimagined basics of a French cafe is so cozy and charming, you feel like it would be okay to pull out a book after your meal and wile the hours away.
I spent over an hour typing out my thoughts on each space. As I continued working, I was surprised at how easily I focused on the design, rather than my moments with Millie. Maybe the two weren't as intertwined as I thought. The realization made me feel lighter than I had in days.
I woke up to pieces of cereal being thrown at my face. Why was it that everytime we were together, we reverted back to our 13-year-old selves?
“Alright, alright, I'm up,” I barked.
“It's about time! I can't believe you fell asleep up here.” Jack responded.
Kip jumped in, “I can. He's our resident brooding artist, writing melancholious essays under the guise of design expertise into the wee hours of the night. Every group needs one.”
“Well, it's good to know I have a role to play.” I joked.
“Are we still planning to dock at Narragansett today?” Ben asked.
“Narragansett? When were we ever planning on making that stop?” Kip replied.
Jack shrugged, “I had mentioned to Ben that it would be nice if we could stop over—maybe just for an hour or two. Millie and her family are docked there and I thought it would make for a nice surprise.”
My heart sank, and Kip groaned. “Does the sacredness of this weekend mean nothing to you boys?”
Ben pouted, “Come on, Kip, it will be great, and she is basically part of the group anyway!”
“Fine, fine, fine. But, this doesn't mean anyone gets to take their hat off,” Kip said. “We wouldn't want Jacky to spend too much time away from his girl. But we don't bend the rules for love.”
Jack laughed, “I'll take the ridicule, and even leave my hat on, if it means a few hours with her.”
I smiled and kept up with the conversation enough so that no one would think anything was off. Inside, I was trying to convince myself that seeing her wouldn't cause any of my feelings from the Guild to resurface. I liked Millie's family, and it was only for a few hours.