Day Ninety Seven: April 6
It’s been a long day. I worked 10.5 hours today. And now I’m headed out of town. But not before a stop at one of my favorite places for comfort food: Panera. I first remember Panera about 1998 or so when they bought out the St. Louis Bread Company in my hometown. In those days the menu was very limited, and I remember chowing down on a chicken salad sandwich on the back steps of my high school before loading up the buses to play a Friday night away game with the high school marching band.
In college, Panera was an affordable luxury. My roommates Chris and Doug and I used to save our money for the Tuesday night treat. We’d all pile into my rockin’ 1986 Chevrolet Cavalier that, in the wintertime, gave one the pleasant choice between running the heater or running the engine. Careening up Wisconsin Avenue, we’d stop in for a sandwich or bowl of hot soup somehow better than what the college cafeteria could make.
Then I graduated and was commissioned an officer in the Navy and moved down to Virginia Beach, VA. On one of my first nights in town, I looked up the Panera and, before GPS units were affordable for regular people, printed a set of directions on Mapquest. I didn’t know anybody. I didn’t know my way around. Love hadn’t moved down yet. But I knew where I could get good food at a rate I could afford.
Years later, the Navy moved us back to Washington D.C. And, not long after that, the happy news that M was on the way. It was at this Panera right here that Mommy and I stopped for a bagel after her first OB appointment. We were high from hearing our baby girl’s heartbeat for the first time, long before we even knew she was a “she”. Now, here I am again, stopping in for a quick bite before I hit the road. I’m going to join the rest of the family, who traveled before me this morning to escape the legendary DC traffic.