Saturday, August 25: Tonight Mike and I go out to eat Ethiopian food at a restaurant in Fairfax called Sheba. We’ve eaten Ethiopian food before, usually in Adams Morgan in D.C., but it’s been a long time. Since I just bought a ticket to go to Ethiopia from Muscat during the Eid at the end of October, Mike thinks it will be fun to put me in the mood for my first trip to east Africa.
The restaurant is small but cutely decorated with colorful Ethiopian basket-tables. A beautiful painting evokes the real Ethiopia.
One of the virtues of Ethiopian food is that you can eat with your fingers — no utensils provided. Instead, food is served on injera — spongy, slightly sour flat bread, traditionally made from fermented teff, an iron-rich native grain. Injera serves as both platter and utensil.
We order the vegetable combination, with servings of all the side dishes— mild and spicy lentils, beans and carrots, cabbage, and collard greens served on a pizza-sized round of the bread with extra injera on the side. We tear off a piece of injera and grab some vegetables, using the injera much like a pair of soft tongs. With each bite, we eat a piece of the bread, so we get full very quickly. Mike keeps telling me that the spongy bread will expand in our bellies during the course of the night, so we will feel like blown-up balloons!
We meet the owner and manager, Azeb Gide, who checks on our happiness level and tells me places I should visit in Ethiopia. The waitress is excited to hear I’ll be going to Addis Ababa, where she is from originally, though she hasn’t been home in 16 years.
After we eat our dinner, we go to Cinema Arts Theatre, which is in Fair City Mall right across the street from the strip mall where Sheba is located. We watch the movie Hope Springs, with Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones.
Kay (Meryl Streep) and Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones) are a middle-aged couple whose marriage of 30 years has gone down the tubes. They sleep in separate bedrooms and show no affection to each other. They basically live parallel lives that intersect only in routine ways. Their marriage is basically dead, even though they haven’t made any formal arrangement to end it. Incredibly frustrated, Kay signs up for an intense counseling session with Dr. Feld after reading his book about mending marriages. Arnold, being the curmudgeon that he is, doesn’t want to go because he sees nothing wrong with their marriage; however, he reluctantly agrees to go on the expensive excursion that Kay has paid for with her own income, probably because he gets an inkling of what he might be on the verge of losing. What follows is an insightful experience as Dr. Feld struggles to help the couple understand how they have emotionally drifted apart and what they can do to reignite their passion. It seems a difficult, if not impossible, task, especially with all the baggage this couple is carrying deep inside themselves.
Interesting movie, especially in light of my situation and my marriage. Mike and I are now in the midst of our 6th year of being separated. Who knows what the future holds? An intense counseling session with Dr. Feld? Or a divorce attorney? The only thing we’ve decided so far is that we will work on our friendship. Which I believe we already have… 🙂