i woke up at noon and microwaved a chicken bake for lunch, then watched several episodes of spongebob squarepants before heading out to porter square to cash my latest unemployment check, get a new toothbrush from cvs (where i bumped into laurie's friend jess), and buy some flowers for amy from the porter square station florist.

i drove my mother home and borrowed the car so i could get to amy's house in watertown. when i got to the address i wasn't sure if it was the right place, but i saw a reassuring sign of a bookshelf full of books through the living room window. amy opened the door when i rang the doorbell. she was cooking in the kitchen when i got there, the minestrone soup warming on the stove (started yesterday for a richer flavor today), a dish of freshly baked focaccia bread, balls of chocolate chip cookie dough on a baking tray. i had a glass of pepsi blue, purchased on my behalf. it was my first time at amy's house, a warm and inviting place, a log burning in the fire place, the smell of delicious food cooking in the kitchen, old mix tapes playing on a little portable stereo. the house sits on top of a hill with a sprawling backyard down in the back. it's hard to imagine the house as anything other than what it looks like now, stories of the original less than perfect condition when they first got it seemingly unbelievable.

when renata and miguel arrived, renata made the salad. soon it was time to eat. a thoroughly professional dinner, with cloth napkins and a centerpiece of white tulips. minestrone with focaccia bread, followed by the salad. i personally could've gone a few more bowls of the hearty and delicious minestrone soup, but since i'm a slow eater and everyone else was already done, i didn't go for seconds.

after dinner, we had tea and dessert, brigham's coffee ice cream with hot chocolate and butterscotch sauces plus chocolate chip cookies. conversations included (i might be mixing in what we said during dinner as well) the details of the belmont high school senior class prank of 1992, puppets versus muppets and renata's amazing ability to remember muppet names, west coast's lack of seasons versus east coast's seasonal abundance, fear of turning 29 and not fullfilling some of life's goals, how i introduced sushi to the girls and their subsequent love/hate relationships with raw fish, renovation before/after stories, the story of the distressed dining table, just to name a few.

back in the living room, amy brought out all her childhood photos based on renata's request. life seems richer when you have photos chronicling each step of the way. people who don't take photos, they might live a full life, but without proof, without the evidence that can only be achieved through images, it's a life that will be forgotten once memories eventually fade. photos are persistent and can be shared with others. photos are also windows into our past, like stepping into a time machine and catching a glimpse of what life was like back then. a single photograph can explain something that mere words have no way of matching. although it was cool seeing amy change over the years, the photos that i found the most interesting were those of other former classmates, people that i've forgotten about in the 10+ years since high school.

the evening taking its natural course, it soon became time to leave. before that could happen though, miguel and renata tortured amy's cat bella with a flashlight, making her chase the spotlight on the wall and the floor. after the customary exchanges of hugs and good byes and thank yous, we walked out the door where it was starting to sleet. renata and miguel left in their car, i left in mine. driving back to my place, i put the vehicle into a sudden slowdown when i glimpsed a watertown police car sitting on the opposite side of the street. my heart stopped when the patrol car turned on its headlights and did a u-turn right behind me. "okay, i'm going to get pulled over for speeding, i'm going to get a ticket," i murmured to myself over and over. i kept on eyeing the police car behind me, waiting for him to turn on his sirens for me to pull over. i was followed for 10 blocks before the cruiser turned away. whew! what's a nice dinner without some suspense?