on my first day of work at this job, nearly two years ago, my boss took me out for lunch to au bon pain. you may know of this popular chain -- i think they're pretty much everywhere. the first one i ever saw was in the port authority bus terminal (perhaps on a summer visit to see my friend katherine edla?). bright and airy, au bon pain serves a multitude of semi-fancy sandwiches, soups, pastries, etc. for reasons i can't quite remember, on that first day, i really hated it. $6 for a sandwich?! i remember thinking with some disgust. it felt too weird to be there...i was terrified of becoming unknowingly initiated into yuppiedom, placated with supple cheeses and squishy baguettes.
two years later, i find myself grabbing lunch from said eatery from time to time, completely of my own accord. i realize now that it's priced relatively decently, and that grabbing a $6 lunch does not make one a yuppie. this makes me feel kind of grown up. i've really seen over the past few years that it's going to have to take a lot more than an office job to change my identity -- a thing i really did fear in the beginning. coming towards the end of my time here (my first Real Job), i've spent a lot of time reflecting on all the things i've learned, the ways i've grown, and the ways i've stayed the same. it's a good feeling.
i got a cup of vegetarian moroccan soup from au bon pain, and a half of a meatless blt (brie, lettuce and tomato) sandwich. i walked along the grey sidewalk alone with the white paper sack in my hand and a philly weekly under my arm. for a block i walked behind two girls, clearly friends, talking and swapping stories in that familiar lunch time way ("how's your morning been?" "...i just had to grit my teeth and tell him 'move the traffic cone'"), and smiled thinking of the various lunching ladies all over our city. alone in my building's atrium i read and ate in silence, occasionally eavesdropping on other lunchers or glancing furtively at the woman next to me staring intently at a new york times crossword puzzle. i hoped she would ask me for a bit of help, perhaps a slang or pop culture-related clue that i could guess with ease. but she didn't.
two weeks, people. two weeks.