Last night, I got together with a group of friends that I’ve known from elementary and junior high school. One of us, Jenn, is being sent by her company to Tokyo for a year so we thought it would be a good idea to have a bon voyage dinner (check out her blog if you’re interested in learning about her life in Japan). As a total aside, I have known Jen since kindergarten all the way to 12th grade. When we graduated from HS, we lost touch but reconnected 2 years ago at our 10-year high school reunion. Even though we have this 10-year black hole in our relationship, I feel like she knows me in ways that even my best friends don’t. My relationship with her is truly unique and special.
When we saw each other last spring, Karen had just read a Time Out New York preview for a restaurant opening up in the East Village called Tigerland. What caught her attention were the names of the chef and co-owners: Jimmy Tu, Miranda Lau, and Steven Ling. All names of folks we went to elementary and/or junior high school with. Had one name just shown up in the article, we would’ve chalked it up to coincidence. But all three??? They must be really the same kids we hung out with back in the day, who sat with us in the same class. So we agreed that the next time we got together, it would be at Tigerland and maybe we would see some long lost friends.
It was a no-brainer to decide where we would eat for Jenn’s bon voyage dinner. And sure enough, when we sat down, we were greeted by our server who turned out to be Miranda, a woman I had not seen since our 5th grade graduation which was 20 years ago!!!! I was sooo shocked and I just couldn’t believe I was reconnecting with someone who I was good friends with when I was 5-10 years old. Had she walked down the street, I told her that I wouldn’t have recognized her. But as the night wore on, I could see the Miranda I remember but with a more mature face. Obviously!!! The things I remember vividly about her was her incredibly neat handwriting (all our teachers praised her for it), her really QUIET demeanor, how she turned red when the teacher called on her but always had the right answer, her pretty dresses and lace trimmed socks that she wore with shiny Mary-Janes, that she was a good friend of mine who I missed when she moved away after the 5th grade. She had grown into her own in the 20 years. She’s become more effervescent, sports at least one visible tattoo, and had lived in California and Hawaii for a significant period of time before moving back to NY to help Jimmy open the restaurant.
Our seeing Miranda brought back TONS of memories from elementary and junior high school. Lots of our sentences began with, “Remember when…” and ended with a fit of laughter as we recounted tales of puppy love, and stupid stuff that we did to act cool or like punks.
There was 7 of us and since it was family style we thought to order a few items off the menu and share it. And since we trusted Miranda’s judgement, we let her decide what we should try! We got surprised with all sorts of food that was absolutely DELICIOUS! Jimmy had always been shy back in the day and hasn’t changed much since we knew him. He didn’t come out of the kitchen till the middle of our meal. But he impressed by remembering almost all of our names. He does all the cooking, with the help of his younger brother. He is a talented chef and his food tastes like he cooks it with love. All of it learned from his mother – how beautiful! He even showed us the kitchen which was impeccably neat when we saw it.
The restaurant had closed by the time we left at 11:30pm. And in their guest book, Karen wrote “I.S. 73 RULES! … and P.S. 102 too!”. All of us signed our names, including Miranda, who STILL has very neat handwriting.