It's been a while, but it's good to be back to the Midnight. I've been away for a while, not by choice, but my ex wife was stricken with a sudden illness that required hospitalization and at-home recovery. She reached out to me for help and I said Yes. She's doing much better and can get around the house on her own now. I stocked up the house with food and other necessities for at least a couple of weeks so she doesn't have to go out. It was bittersweet to leave. I had forgotten how comforting it is to just sit in the evening with someone else in the same room, reading, and even cuddling at times. But, whatever we had once, was gone, and we both are mature enough to recognize that basic fact in our relationship, and still able to remain friends.
I have been looking forward to returning to the Midnight for inspiration, and of course, some more of the fine porter. As I walk in, I catch the eye of "Bartender" (the only name he'll provide), he points to the porter's tap, and I nod. He has it poured for me as soon as I walk up to the bar. I reach for my wallet and he shakes his head. "We'll settle up when you leave." He continued "You were gone for a while - everything OK?" I was surprised at the intimacy of the question and I explained about my ex wife. He nodded sympathetically and said "Yeah, my ex and I have that kind of a relationship too. It took almost ten years before we could just enjoy each other's company for an occasional dinner or helping each other out, but now, we're just good friends like you are with your ex." I thanked him for the porter, and carried it back to my table.
As is my habit, I opened my notebook, dated the new page, and began to take notes. I looked around, and nodded to the person sitting in the corner of the room. He (or she... couldn't quite tell as the light is a bit dim in that corner) nodded back.