IN The Big Chill, a group of friends come together for the funeral of another friend. While today’s brunch at Marigold did not have a somber air, it did have a similar reunion-esque vibe. Among our gang was Wee, who’s been MIA for ages due to med school hooplah; Nicole, ensconced in West Philly but who can be teased out with quizo and dim sum; Megan, who I’d heard lots about but had yet to sit down over coffee with; and Paige, passing through but stilling for long enough to eat and laugh and catch up.
We also bumped into three other college acquaintances over the course of the meal, which just goes to show that Philly is a city that holds its people. Kind of like Paris, or Cairo. Sit anywhere on the Champs Élysées or at Tahrir Square (preferably not in the square itself, but adjacent–say, at the Egyptian Museum) for long enough, and you’re sure to see a parade of faces from your past. It’s comforting to know that Philly is growing into one of those cities.
Today was another one of the city’s beautiful days: we woke with the hint of snow on the ground and the promise of more to come; I woke to a reminder of a friend’s production of The Tempest. The trolley came almost on time (a positive sign for Septa). All good things, and they just contributed to the general air of satisfaction.
I met Wee and Nicole outside Marigold, and we proceeded into the cozy inner vestibule to warm ourselves and start the adventure with laughter and reminisces. Megan and Paige showed up a few minutes later and Wee taught them how to make stars out of rubber bands; and then we were ushered inside the restaurant proper to our window-side table. With my back to the street and surrounded by glass, I felt both part of the scenery and an on-looker onto the world outside.
Because Paige was catching a train, we had to order fast and eat quicker. We made our selections contingent on each other’s selections — which sounds a bit balmy, but which meant that once the food came, it rotated. Nicole’s brioche french toast made its way to each of us; Wee passed his salmon around; Paige and Megan split the mini pumpkin muffins; I passed around forkfuls of surry sausage and mushroom crepe; Paige handed off her sandwich to anyone who wanted a bite. Family-style, and very easy. Conversation, coffee, and food passed from person to person, punctuated by laughter, happy sighs, and “remember whens?”
At the end, as we sat contentedly in our star-shaped 5-person formation, the general consensus was clear. “What’s for dessert?” Wee was satisfied, but had enjoyed his meal so much he wanted more.
Marigold provides perfectly proportioned dishes–not too much, but just enough that you know you’ll be back. The walls are a delicate yellow, bearing bright paintings and, in the vestibule, copper-pipe light fixtures. It feels like a house, but like no home you’d ever known. Nicole and Megan mused for a moment on whether or not they could turn their West Philly address into a brunch kitchen; they certainly have enough chairs for it. But the thought of coming “home” to dishes, or waking up knowing you have to put on your brightest face and bring out the fresh coffee…Well, it was all a bit much. Maybe one day, when we’re a little more established, a little more settled.
As for me? I bid my goodbyes and went to see The Tempest. Talking about theater is not my forte, but this was a haunting performance that stripped the text down and rebuilt it around three faces, three sets of hands, and three voices — and what “rough magic” they could cull from their own artistry. (Shout out to the lighting, sound design, and set, too–magic. Magic!) And from there, to home; and once at home, I settled in for a quiet evening, watching the new snow fall in the city and letting the scent of fresh blackberry muffins rise in the oven behind me.
At its heart, isn’t that what a Sunday is for?