Sunday, February 24, 2008

I Think It's a Good Omen

There was a bakery in our old neighborhood that Ash and I loved very much. It was literally just behind the apartment building where he lived, and when we first started dating, we went there at least once or twice a week, sometimes during the week (the bus that took us to law school stopped right in front of their door), and at least one weekend morning. When he moved a few blocks up the street and I graduated from law school, our trips became less frequent, but didn't stop entirely, especially when the weather was good and we could walk from Ash's place to the bakery, then from the bakery to a little park a few blocks further away. We would sit at a picnic table or on a bench, eating pastries, or if we'd been especially lucky that day, some of the much sought-after scones, and sipping coffee. Ash always tried to get a certain woman there to make the coffees because he said that it just tasted better for some reason-- a magic touch with the creamer and sugars, I suppose.

Then we moved to the neighborhood where we live now. And it's far enough away that we almost never made it back to the bakery in our old neighborhood. And then one day, I drove past on my way to church, and the bakery was closed. No warning, just poof, gone. It was one of those gasp-out-loud-and-nearly-hit-the-guy-in-front-of-you moments. We asked some of our friends if they knew what had happened to it, but they were as much in the dark as we were. Small details emerged over time, but nothing more substantial than the will-o-the-wisp of rumor: the baker was forced out when the building owners more than doubled his rent, the business had gone under, he'd moved to a nearby street... All of it plausible, but none of it confirmed.

A couple of months later, I drove past again, on my way to a Trustees meeting at the church, and the windows were covered with large sheets of paper. Large letters were painted on the paper, announcing that a new and exciting place would be OPENING SOON! with a DELI and a BAKERY and UNICORNS! Okay, maybe not that last one. Anyway, after the meeting, I asked our pastor if he'd heard anything about the fate of our beloved bakery. Pastor Fred is very involved in the neighborhood association, and he's also got a bit of a sweet tooth, so really, if anyone would know what happened, he'd be as likely a candidate as anyone. He told me that the baker had opened new premises maybe a mile or so away, in the border area between my old neighborhood, and a slightly sketchier neighborhood.

It was dark by the time the meeting adjourned, but the next Sunday after church, I drove over to the corner Fred had described, but I couldn't figure out where the bakery was supposed to be. Ash and I made a second reconnaissance trip, which involved me circling the block several times at the slowest speed that wouldn't result in getting honked at by other drivers with actual destinations while we both gawked out the window at the shops passing by. No luck.

I'd say we gave up at that point. Except actually, I didn't, because I would just google the name of the bakery and the baker every so often, hoping for a little article in some local newspaper or trade journal to either tip me off to where he went, or at least what had happened. And early last week, I finally hit pay dirt in the form of the neighborhood newsletter, which listed his new address and asked everyone to support him in his new location. I promptly googled the new address... and Google pointed me right to the corner we'd cased all those months ago. I could not understand it. We'd even pulled the car over to the side of the road so that we could take a closer look at the shops-- a closed Slovak bakery (no relation to our beloved missing bakery), an upholsterer's shop, a wedding shop, but definitely no sign of our missing bakery.

This morning, I went to church, and after services, I decided to take a little drive past the corner again. On the first go round, I started to stop and look, but a car was coming up behind me, so I went around the block again. I stopped the car near the corner and looked: closed Slovak bakery, upholsterer, wedding dresses. Disappointed, I started to drive away toward the highway.

That's when the baker crossed the street right in front of my car. He walked up to the door of the shop on the very end of the row and went inside.

I almost peed my pants I was so excited.

Back around the block again, park the car, walk up to the door, and push it open, heart pounding with excitement and anticipation... Holy Cow! It's our bakery! The woman behind the counter wasn't anyone I recognized from the old location, but the pastries in the case were definitely the same deliciousness, and there in the back was the baker himself. I cannot imagine what my face must have looked like. The woman behind the counter said "You look like you want to say something", and I burst out, "I can't BELIEVE I found you!!", grinning like a fool.

Not only did I find our long lost bakery, but they had Mohnschnecken! Oh, man, do I love poppyseed pastries. And they had one last cherry cheese pocket-- Ash's favorite. So here I am, on the couch in my snuggly fleece pants, drinking nice strong coffee and trying not to eat my last Mohnschnecke-- I want to save it for tomorrow, to start my spa day off with a special treat. This is a good start to thirty-two.



At 11:20 PM , Blogger Sonja said...

Mohnschnecken... it's been too long!


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