Jackson Five Friday: El Chalan and Grace Upon Grace

A couple of Saturday nights ago, my husband Will and I went out on a date. We are not particularly good at having consistent date nights. Sometimes we get on streaks, but we are more likely to enjoy a glass of wine at home. But on Saturday, September 15th, we had plans. I got tickets online to a documentary about Detroit that Will suggested we see. The only place it was showing was at an artsy type of theatre in DC (oddly ended up meeting the director before the show). I figured we’d hit the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown which happens to have a lovely little outdoor courtyard with interesting drinks and fried pickles.

We found a parking space not far from the theatre, and then started walking.

“Why would we go to the Four Seasons?” Will asked. “It’s in the wrong direction.”

I found this statement intrinsically irritating. “When did we turn eighty?” I responded.

We considered alternatives including the Brickskeller, which the iPhone informed us is permanently closed and would’ve been a longer walk for this suddenly feeble couple anyway. We quickly descended into that horrid dating abyss of no man’s land: how could we still fall into the pit of indecision after more than twenty years of doing this?

We decided to just start walking and pick out a new place. We stumbled upon a place called Ris. We asked to sit outside for drinks and appetizers, and they said they could seat us “at the back of the patio.” When the seating hostess returned, she was told “take them to the back of the patio.” We stayed in “the back of the patio” for about twenty seconds. No to Ris. Onward.

We then decided to go to Kinkead’s which was probably another five or six blocks away. I have fond memories of eating there many years ago as a summer associate at a DC law firm, but when we got there, none of the appetizers sounded too tantalizing. I was looking at the map on my phone as the bartender set down our drinks.

“Oh look, I’d love to try this Peruvian place.” I said, handing Will the phone.

“El Chalan?” Will asked, stunned. “This is unbelievable. That’s where Ed [Peruvian co-worker] told me we need to go. I seriously talked to him about it this week!”

“Well, let’s go then!”

We downed those drinks like it was a drinking contest and scooted on over to El Chalan, two blocks away. We now had only forty-five minutes before we needed to head back for our movie. But it was the best forty-five minute date I’ve had in my life. It was magical. The food was amazing. The pisco sour better than a margarita. Everything was incredibly flavorful. And I loved the understated ambience. A man playing the guitar was making his rounds, taking requests. He sang Peruvian favorites and “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before.” One lady celebrated her birthday and was serenaded. She had the most contagious, embarrassed laugh I’ve ever heard. Oh was she elated by the attention. Amazing how fun it can be to witness someone you don’t even know have a great time!

A week later, we took the boys and my mom to El Chalan. It was too early for the entertainment but everyone agreed the food was wonderful. On Monday I realized that I didn’t have my wallet when I met a friend for lunch and had to have her pay. Nice. If you know me, it’s probably not terribly shocking. Misplacing my wallet is a skill I have. I’m amazing at it.

I tried to retrace my steps. I knew I had it on Saturday afternoon, but couldn’t picture having it anywhere but in the car that day. When by Tuesday my wallet just wasn’t showing up, and my online checks of my credit cards showed no use, I decided to call El Chalan. I had zero expectation that they’d have it because Will was there, why would I take my wallet along?

“Hi, I think I may have left my wallet there on Saturday night.”

“Yes!!! What is your name?”

“Kristie Jackson.”

“Yes, I tried to call you. But I do not know if that was the right number. We have had it since Saturday night.”

On Tuesday night my sister, Laurie, had a layover in DC and her hotel was just a few blocks from El Chalan. Obviously I had to go pick up my wallet, so we met, along with her daughter, at El Chalan. It was the third time I had been there in ten days, and it was just as fantastic as that first night. I had the same waiter all three times, and his winsome smile is without parallel.

At Bible study this week we looked at John 1:16 “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”

Grace upon grace. From a redeemed date night to protecting my wallet to enjoying El Chalan three times in ten days with a significant contingency of all my favorite people. Grace upon grace. The story of my life.

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