I had a vague recollection that Jenny Rosen told me about a gluten-free lunch place on State Line Road. I drove as slowly as the Saturday afternoon traffic allowed, thinking about the nicks and scrapes on the Prius and hoping that I wouldn’t have to make any sudden moves. I wracked my brain to try to remember the name of the place.
Then I spied a sign: Gluten-Free. With a quick glance in the rear-view mirror I executed a sharp left-turn and circled back through the building’s lower parking lot. tLoft. Eureka!
I couldn’t decide among the few lunch options for vegetarian, no dairy. But the young lady settled on one foot and started telling me about the adjustments they could make. No extra charge. Music to my ears.
Lentil-bowl ordered, juice selected, I took a seat along the wall. Light bathed the whole place from the high expanse of the west-facing windows. I studied the other patrons: Yoga pants, skinny blue-jeans, young people mostly — though a few women my age but with smooth skin, thin bodies, and shoulder-length shiny hair beneath those billed half-hats that suggest an athlete’s life. I tucked my feet under the table and squared my shoulders, trying to look like one of them under my uncombed curls and two inches of grey roots.
I’m not sure which juice combination I selected but I felt its virtues seeping through my cells on impact. The lentil combination kissed my chapped lips with a lemon twist and settled easy in my stomach, warm and nurturing. I closed my eyes and contemplated the heavy feeling that my weeks of illness has left in my chest. Had I been eating food like this for the last month, I don’t think I’d need the antibiotic that my doctor prescribed on Friday, I thought.
But the food did not comfort me on its own. The wide wooden tables, the murmur of the other diners, the nearly imperceptible whir of the juicer, and the low pleasant music formed a symphony of soothing. An hour later, when my tablet’s battery had reached 10%, I tossed the paper plate and plastic cup in the trash and exited the place, knowing that I’d return.
There’s something about a place with such definite good vibrations that calls to my soul. I can make a decent lentil dish in my own kitchen. Six bucks gets me an entire bottle of acceptable juice-veggie blend at the grocery store. But there’s something about sitting in a sunny storefront eating food cooked by an earnest twenty-something that cannot be replicated on my own. Maybe it’s just clever marketing. But when I exited the place, I heard a staff member call out, Thank you for coming in today! I felt genuinely appreciated in that moment. I carried the sensation all the way home.
It’s the twelfth day of the thirty-eighth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.