by Rob Tiller
Sally and I celebrated our anniversary on Saturday, the same day of the week as our marriage in New York 28 years ago. We had quickly agreed last week that we needed to mark the occasion with a special meal, and gave consideration to several fine area restaurants. We settled on Piedmont in Durham, a place we’d been meaning to try for a while.
As usual, we did not do anniversary presents. Sally is fundamentally unacquisitive — not deeply interested in expensive jewelry, clothes, or other consumables — and so holidays at which presents are integral, such as Christmas and birthdays, are challenging for me. She likes books and practical things. For her birthday last week, she wanted a special type of binoculars strap, which I found, and I also got her a hardcover called The Ballet Companion. Plus flowers, a card, and cupcakes. She seemed happy. For the anniversary, she got me a sweet card, and I, after a difficult search, found her a humorous card that at least wasn’t dumb or tasteless.
Piedmont is on Foster Street near the Armory, where we used to do swing dancing, in a block of short commercial buildings. The decor is post-modern Euro bistro, evocative of a lot of things, some warm, some cool. The menu is interesting — modern Italian, with locally grown organic ingredients. It is vegetarian friendly, which I define as having more than one plant-based entrée. I had zucchini mint soup, which was lovely, with just a hint of mint, and ricotta ravioli with olives and tomatoes, which was acceptable. Service was the one disappointment — too slow. For dessert, we split a rich chocolate torte with chili ice cream and chocolate sauce. The chili idea created a certain risk, and it was rich and rewarding.
We talked about food, music, dance, science, and travel. We’re thinking of another scuba trip to the Caribbean and considering the Bahamas, but the horrendous ongoing Gulf Coast oil disaster, with vast quantities of oil moving into the Gulf Stream, is an issue. We continued our discussion of making a larger donation to the Carolina Ballet, which we love. As I was reminded recently in reading Dee Brown’s book about the settlement of the American West, the performing arts spread and survived because of patrons, not because of ticket sales. We started our married life with no assets other than cheap furniture and clothes to wear, and the experience was formative. I never imagined when we married that one day we’d be giving thought to the right way to handle charitable giving. We’re very lucky.
This morning the Times had an interesting take on the breakup of Al and Tipper Gore after 40 years of marriage. http://tiny.cc/lve8n We were sad to hear of their split, and of course, curious about the cause. And as Tara Parker-Pope notes in the Times, there’s just no way to know the root cause. But it’s a reminder that marriages change, and they require nourishing. Apparently couples who do new and different things together are happier. Certainly, it’s good to try new restaurants.