Wednesday, July 31, 2019

arcade bakery - a love letter (and the story of a relationship).


This week I realized that my relationship with Tyler has been defined by croissants. 

A month into us dating and a couple of weeks after we arrived back to the states from studying abroad in Europe,  Tyler showed up at my dorm room with a French breakfast in bed. Croissants he had gotten after walking a mile to his car and then driving to Wilmington to find the best version available to us in Delaware. There was butter and jam.  I think coffee too.   To this day it remains one my favorite memories (and probably the single most romantic thing he’s ever done - we peaked early!). 

When we moved in together, Saturday mornings were reserved for breakfast together.  For over a decade it's been the same breakfast.  Scrambled eggs with cheese and lots of black pepper.  Toast with butter and jam.  Coffee with milk and sugar. In the summer there may be berries or sliced peaches.  In the winter there could be grapefruit or oranges.  After we finish our eggs, we share a  chocolate almond croissant.

I use the term share loosely because he eats the edges and saves me the center.  The piece with more chocolate and more almond.  Love is giving the person the better piece because you know it means more to them. 

Some people may find the consistency and routine of this odd.  I find it comfortable.  I like having something to always look forward to.  It's a standing date.  It's something I can rely on in a world where everything always feels like it's moving.  

Since the first croissant there have been countless others.  There was the croissant we shared the first weekend we spent in our new apartment after the hurricane.  There was the one we ate after we got engaged on a snowy morning in December while we watched Pitch Perfect.  There were croissants eaten in AirBnB's in Seattle, Washington and in cars while driving home from Maine.     

But, for almost 5 years, our relationship has been defined by a very specific chocolate almond croissant from Arcade Bakery. 

Arcade Bakery is perfect. It's a bakery that feels like a hidden secret but not in a pretentious way.  Instead it comes across as a gem you just stumbled across in the middle of NYC.  It's in the lobby of an office building and you would never know it was there unless you were looking for it or actually stopped to smell the scent of fresh baked bread and asked yourself where its coming from.   You can find me there once a week.  Buying baguettes and loaves of bread and cinnamon sugar brioche and chocolate almond croissants for our Saturday morning breakfast dates.    

The first time we ever shared an Arcade Bakery croissant was on the morning of our wedding.  I couldn't imagine breaking our routine on our wedding day.  Marriage is about the things you love.  The person you love.  I love Saturday morning breakfasts with Tyler.  I wanted to start our marriage that way.

Since then, they've been a constant.  You can almost always find one or two of them in our freezer.  I have the tendency to buy them in multiples just in case I can't get there one week.   Is this something an insane person does?  Probably.  (I've never said I wasn't crazy.)   We reheat them in the oven, wrapped in tinfoil, for about 10 minutes.  They emerge as if they have been freshly baked.   They are prefect.  

On Friday August 2nd, Arcade Bakery closes.  The owner, Rodger, has rheumatoid arthritis and it's too painful for him to bake bread.  I keep thinking about how cruel life can be.   I keep thinking about his this feels like the end of an era. 

I'm currently on what I am referring to as a reunion tour with them.  Finding every opportunity to go there before it closes.  I feel such a visceral reaction to this bakery in the lobby of an office building.  It's been such a part of my life.  It was constant.  It was happiness.   In a lot of ways it's defined my marriage.  Should food define a marriage?  Why not.  Food is a way to connect people. 

Can love exist between the flaky layers of a chocolate almond croissant?  I think it can.  For me it has.   I'm currently stockpiling our freezer so we have what I am now referring to as "the croissant" for at least a couple of more weeks.  I will be saving the last one for our 5 year wedding anniversary.  You take your year old cake.  I'll take the my months old croissant.   

Last night Tyler asked me what's next.   I don't know.  Maybe it's time we find something new.  Doughnuts?  Chocolate rugelach?  Regular chocolate croissants?  At this moment, nothing else feels quite right.   Perhaps each week is a grab bag and we constantly try new things until we settle on a favorite.  He suggested that maybe I could turn this into a new blog series - what comes after a perfect chocolate croissant?  

Trying new things with him wouldn't be the worst idea.  Maybe we can start creating a new set of memories.  Something else I can love so deeply that I always want to return to it week after week.  

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