If I'd only known that the meal I was about to have would be, without doubt, the best and most delicious dinner I would partake in for the next five days…I would have savored every bite, and then carefully wrapped up any and all leftovers to take home with me, to be indulged in later…
I didn't know.
We're on Day #1 of our High School Musical bus trip to Washington, D.C…and after touring Ford's Theater, as well as the National World War II Memorial, we're all starving. Oh - and the high school kids are starving, too.
Rosemary's Thyme Bistro…a Mediterranean kitchen...
Fortunately, our tour organizers had made pre-reservations at a delightful little corner restaurant called Rosemary's Thyme Bistro…so the proprietors and staff didn't die of shock when three bus loads of hungry, starving high schoolers descended upon them like a pack of locusts. Seriously, we SWARMED the place, filling in every available nook, corner, cranny and table…and the staff hopped to attention, quickly getting salads placed in front of us, water glasses filled, and soda pop set in front of the kids.
Before the invasion of the hungry high-school barbarians...
Lucy, Daughter and myself...
I heard later that there had been an "adults" table - somewhere, some place - inside the restaurant, but I was so tired and so hungry at this point that I just blindly followed the teenagers to the next available empty table and sat down with them - which turned out to be quite fun, actually, as I got to know some of the kids better. And some of these kids were a hoot. Maybe I was a bit slap-happy at this point, due to lack of sleep - but I was laughing and giggling to the point of tears, and feeling more like a kid myself rather than a middle-aged chaperone.
Seriously - sitting with these kids reminded me that we are all pretty much the same inside, regardless of the difference in our ages…and the kids may not want to believe it, but we were pretty much exactly like them at that age.
Mr. "Cinderella" should be doing comedy on the stage…and little did I know how much I'd get to know the girl in the corner, Sadie...
After noshing on our salads, our entrees began arriving. We'd pre-ordered these before arriving, having been given a choice of chicken, beef, lamb or salmon. Looking around the table, it was interesting to spot the kids' choices, and how well their 'choices' matched their personalities. The kids who like to play things safe were happy with chicken…while the more adventurous and bolder kids had gone with lamb.
I'd chosen the salmon…and I had chosen well.
Nothing fancy. But totally delicious.
Nom. Nom. Nom.
It. Was. Perfect.
The restaurant was on top of things - they knew they had three gluten-free diners in the group, and somehow knew that I was one of them. A waitress discreetly asked me, before bringing the dessert, if I would be okay with flan - since I would be unable to have cheesecake, as the rest of the group was having.
That sauce has some sort of coffee-flavor to it - and it was to die for. If I hadn't thought that licking my plate would set a bad example for the kids - I would have totally done it. It was that good.
All too soon, it was time to load up on the buses, and head to our hotel. Where a bed…and a shower (gasp!) would be waiting for me.
We stayed at the Sheraton in Pentagon City…and I have to say, I was impressed by the hotel. It was spacious, clean, and beautifully decorated.
Not my picture…but pretty much what my room looked like...
I had a great view of the Pentagon outside my window, along with the United States Air Force Memorial, which we would visit later in the week:
I could also see just a tip of Arlington National Cemetery, if I looked over to the left outside my window:
After getting settled in my room, I headed down to the nightly chaperone meeting, where we'd go over the next day's itinerary, and any concerns or matters that needed discussion regarding the kids. Each evening, after this meeting, the various chaperones would scatter to the far corners of the hotel, each of us checking two rooms of four kids each, making sure THEY knew the itinerary the next day, and answering any questions or concerns they had.
After first checking on Daughter's room, along with her three friends, I made my way up a floor to the "older" girls' room - a group of four juniors. I knew two of them, Emily and Megan, from my neighborhood…but the other two, Mikayla and Caitlin, I would be meeting for the first time.
Or so I thought.
After letting me in their room (which already looked like a tornado had struck - seriously??!! I guess teenage girls are all the same!!), Caitlin immediately said, "I know you from somewhere. How do I know you??"
I looked at her, but without any recognition…It's funny how your mind tries to place someone…almost going through a card-sort in your brain…Church? No. Work? Obviously not. Neighborhood? Not that I know of.
I shrugged, and told her, "I have no idea…maybe I just have one of those faces…"
The more I thought about it, as I was in my own room that night, tossing and turning and attempting to get to sleep in a strange bed, the more I realized I knew Caitlin, as well…but from where?? Gah. I knew I wasn't going to get to sleep until I had figured this mystery out, so I put my brain to work, flashing back over my memories the last few years in order to place her.
And then it hit me.
Eight years ago, I worked at a local elementary school…beginning the year as a paraprofessional, assigned to a 3rd-grade boy with high-functioning autism. The little boy was 'mainstreamed' in some of his classes, and it was there that I got close to a lot of the 3rd-graders - especially the little girls, who seemed to gravitate to me during recess and other breaks.
And Caitlin had been one of those 3rd-grade girls.
She was now an 11th-grader.
It had been EIGHT years, and Caitlin had remembered me.
Holy Memory, Batman.
I was impressed. I couldn't wait to tell her in the morning - but in the meantime, it was finally, FINALLY, time to go to sleep.