As Dawn walked toward her in the crowded, chic San Francisco café Lisa wondered how their lives had taken such different paths. The click click of her newest Gucci heels across the tile floor was the perfect metronome to the duet of black burgundy hair and the deep chocolate pantsuit that hugged her figure. Gorgeous as usual.
She swooped in for a quick peck on the cheek. A soft cloud of sophisticated sweetness filled Lisa’s nostrils but she stopped short of asking for the fragrance’s name. Did she need another entry scribbled on her Never-Gonna-Get-It list?
“Hi honey! Sorry I’m late. Charlie needed his homework signed again. I don’ t understand how he can be practically failing pre-Algebra after three years of Japanese math camp.”
Dawn collapsed into the waiting seat and placed a beautiful merlot clutch on the table. It was from Capisce, Dawn’s mouth watering line of handbags. It wasn’t at all uncommon to see Hollywood’s latest anorexic toting one of her pieces down Robertson Avenue in Beverly Hills. Lisa tried not to envy her best friend.
“No worries at all,” she stammered. “It’s just nice to be kid-free and out of the house.”
Dawn spotted her eying the merchandise.
“Lisa, I told you if you ever want another…”
She waved the illusion away with my hands.
“No, no, no. It’s fab, yes, but what would I wear with a designer bag? My extra special lime green Crocs and an Old Navy ensemble?” Besides, the one Capisce bag Lisa did own sat, the leather un-broken-in, on the top shelf of her dresser making the rest of her belongings feel inferior.
At the word “Crocs” Dawn smiled nervously as if bad fashion choices were contagious.
Lisa felt a speech about the importance of one’s insides matching the outside bubbling upward and was three seconds away from flight or fight mode when she saw River in the café door. Never without a slew of baggage, emotional or otherwise, she dramatically made her way to the table, creating enemies out of patrons as she bumped her extra-large Whole Foods reusable eco-totes on the backs and legs of coffee drinkers.
She took the seat next to Dawn who was glancing around the café uncomfortably. “Must you bring your caravan goods with you everywhere?”
River, unfazed, struggled to push her bags under the table.
“I’m going to hit up the farmer’s market on the way home. I hear the raw cheese guy is coming up from Santa Cruz…”
Dawn officially greeted River with a warm kiss on the cheek before answering.
“Sounds like a stomach bug waiting to happen,” Dawn murmured playfully.
Lisa stared at River, intoxicated by how a human being could be such the perfect blend of confidence and obliviousness. She’d met River at a Free Tibet rally while dating a perpetual activist. While she couldn’t remember the sign River had been vigorously waving back and forth, she did recall the celery root smoothie they split after catching her beau making out with a brunette vegan.
“Lisa, Dawn,” River motioned us in with her hands, “I’m bursting at the seams. The new project we are working on at Green Helps is going to change San Francisco forever. You know the McCondo development in the Financial District? We’re staging a series of sit-ins until the developer can present solid proof that the buildings won’t disturb local indigenous ecosystems.”
“Local indigenous ecosystems?” Lisa spat, “This is San Francisco. Are you worried about upsetting the delicate relationship between the ancient species of meter-maidus and her prey, the out-of-town driver?”
River shook her hands wildly, “This is big stuff! Channel 7 has already called me for an interview!”
“Congrats dear!” Dawn gently stroked River’s hair much like a mother does when she’s lavishing praise on a proudly displayed disaster of paint and glitter.
A pretty college student-aged waitress made her way over to the table with a pot of lavender tea, buttery madeleines, and four porcelain mugs: their standard order.
River glanced around. “Where is Meeghan? Do you think there was traffic on the bridge?”
The bridge River spoke of was the Golden Gate and it was one of the last threads holding together their relationship with increasingly Tiburon-involved Meeghan. It was only a quick 15 minute car ride from the scenic little town where the richest 15% of the nation dwelled but the dinner party, museum, and community meeting scene was so expansive that their resident débutante was now their proverbial needle in a cash-stack.
“I’ll call her,” and just as Lisa turned to find her purse she spotted Meeghan in the doorway. One of the most interesting parts about Tiburon residents is how hard they try not to appear wealthy. Here was Meeghan, who could have treated the entire café to macchiatos on what she allocates for monthly dog grooming services, clad head-to-toe in REI. Her brand new tennis shoes and olive fleece vest would probably never be exposed to Yosemite’s spring rain but she did look good.
“My girls!” Meeghan opened her arms wide as she approached the table and, like a good politician (or a bad one) gave everyone a shoulder squeeze and kiss.
As she took a seat next to Lisa they all stared patiently, waiting for an explanation for not only her current tardiness but general MIA behavior which had included a series of unreturned phone calls.
Meeghan tried to ignore the frosty table climate while touching up her lipgloss but then abruptly snapped her open compact shut.
“Look. I know I’ve been busy. Max and I have…”
The second she said the “M” word her friends simultaneously checked out. Meeghan and Max. She met the real estate broker turned real estate monger 15 years ago and they married months afterwards. Many wonder if a man so intent on recreating a human being has existed since Frankenstein. Not only did he change the way a formerly down-to-earth Meeghan dressed, the ladies were quite sure he was working on giving her a British accent by winter. Lisa wondered sadly if in his eyes she wasn’t just another fixer-upper.
“Ok,” Lisa lied when Meeghan was through explaining, “we understand.”