I made sure that this last day of July was a good one.
Beginning with a walk down to the river and along the pipeline walkway, I made the most of the blue skies and low humidity.
I chose to ignore the guy siting on the sidewalk who commented, "Look at those cheeks!" when I walked by.
This afternoon, a favorite drummer came by to bring me a painting he'd done for me in exchange for some writing I'd done for him.
He described it as an analogy for me: it has a decided colorful streak near the middle but it's not a bright painting. I loved it when he said that there are five other paintings under the one I ended up with.
It now holds a place of honor in my living room.
My evening began at Pasture for the "Case for Hope" drive, a happy hour collection of suitcases and duffel bags for children in foster care.
It's too good a cause not to support and I'd been out of town for the last drive, so I wasn't missing this one.
When I walked in with my three suitcases at 5 sharp, no one was there except Michele, the organizer of the event, and she was being interviewed by ABC.
Despite that, she broke to say hi to me before resuming answering questions.
After adding my bags to the pile, I headed to the bar for a glass of Conde Villar Vinho Verde Rose, spending some time talking to the guy from United Methodist Family Services who, like me, was wearing skinny orange stripes tonight.
What are the chances, we wondered.
Before long friends arrived: the PR whiz, my favorite Hopewell resident, the restaurant owner. I had just enough time to discuss "Cabaret," the music schedule at Strangeways Brewing and how hard it is to get a partner to do what you want before I had to leave.
After donating to a good cause, it was time for me to feed my head and Chop Suey was having a poetry reading.
Browsing the bookshelves before it even got started, I spotted the lovely poet across the room and she made it clear we had things to discuss after her month in France. Before long, she cornered me next to the music books.
Irish men, the Loire valley, camping near Geneva and bicycle tours, that's all I'm going to say about what she shared. Really, who could have a bad time in France for a month?
I especially loved her descriptions of how overwhelming it was to experience so much new and wonderful on a daily basis.
Then we found seats in the hard folding chairs arranged in rows between the shelves and waited for the magic to begin. I'm the first to admit that I love being read to.
Reading first was non-poet Meg Rains (mistakenly introduced as a "poof-reader") reading from a short non-fiction piece called, "The Memory of My Disappearance."
Favorite line: Memory is more feeling than fact.
Joshua Marie Wilkinson got up next and read for far too brief a time.
His last new book of poetry, "Swamp Isthmus" provided some intriguing imagery such as "the moon flinches, flickers" and "poems composed in the battle of night."
Sometimes night is a battle, no?
From "Fortnight's Insignia," he read, "So it's going to be that kind of a century?" and referred to "the storm's indifference to its vehicle," something I can attest to after witnessing my first hurricane earlier this month.
I would have liked to have heard more from this quiet-voiced man.
Last to read was Zachary Schomburg, whose poetry was referred to as "emotionally confusing," by Chop Suey owner Ward, who introduced Schomburg.
Saying he was going to read from his latest, "Book of Joshua," he explained the story began in 1977 and ended in 2044.
He began reading from the 1977 portion and then took audience shout-outs for the remainder.
After reading a section from 1977, someone called out 1982 and he read from that. Then 1993 and eventually 2014 ("Life is a slow farewell") and 2023.
"And then more stuff happens and then he dies," Schomburg said wrapping up quickly.
Next he put music on and read another poem to it ("I want inside you in a good way") and then added in a recording of words being said.
Schomburg continued to read the poem while the recorded voice ("This is Joshua, but not a Joshua you know") read something else and words overlapped. It had become performance art.
When the reading ended, we took a stroll up Cary Street to Pomegranate because while I'd been several times, my companion had never been.
Navigating closed sidewalks, frozen yogurt eaters (including a city councilman) and packs of annoying West End 20-somethings, we made it in time for happy hour.
Taking advantage of the hour with Pinto Gris, we began with blue fish two ways - pickled and hash- with pickled onions and beets with creme fraiche and crostini.
We noticed a table for one upstairs, off the main dining room and backed against a wall on a narrow overlook, a seemingly odd place to dine. It looked like the "time out" table.
You know, in case you misbehaved at the restaurant.
Next up I had buttermilk fried quail confit over obscenely rich butter whipped potatoes with pancetta cream and it occurred to me I hadn't had mashed potatoes probably since Thanksgiving.
My date had an enormous and phallic-looking housemade pork sausage over polenta, positively delicious but way more food than I could have eaten, so I made do with one bite.
By the time we left, Carytown was a bit calmer and we window shopped, looking at bikes, lingerie and kitchen utensils along the way.
We finished off the evening with Cantina Puianello Lambrusco and oblique references to when pigs fly.
On a day as good as this, who knows? I'd like to think anything is possible.