crepes and friends
“Are you kidding me? It’s like a pocket full of goodness.”
We are bent over four Nutella crepes, tucked inside the best hidden place in all of Providence: La Creperie on Fones Alley. Over the past few weeks, we have made our way through all of the Brown University staples, including Baja’s, Bagel Gourmet, and even Jo’s. Tonight, it is my turn to chose the spot; I could think of nothing more joyful than a crepe dinner and dessert in this perfect little nook I discovered over a year ago.
Exhausted one evening after hours of set-building for a PW show, I had sauntered down Thayer Street in search of some semblance of solace. In a cramped, lively eatery and a chicken and mushroom crepe, I found it. Since then, La Creperie has become my biweekly treat, an indulgence for when academia bogs me down, and this night is no different.
It is a classic October evening with friends, filled with food, general tomfoolery, a Red Sox game, and friendly yet not-so-subtle digs at my inexplicable quirks. As I cut a corner slice from my Nutella-strawberry crepe and pick it up with my hands, I am greeted with a cacophony of wonder and disgust.
“Nicole, what are you doing?”
“Hey, I just like to pick it up sometimes. It’s easier to eat this way!”
Griffin gives me a look of loving confusion. Henry laughs at Griffin’s mockery of me. Matt, who often shares my oddities, nods his head in approval.
We are two months into my junior year and finally, it feels like perhaps I have found my niche —my boyfriend Griffin, his two friends from high school, Henry and Matt, and Matt’s girlfriend Kelsey, a wonderful former-Chicagoan who now works in Providence (and is as invaluable as the rest despite not having experienced the crepes). Brown University has given me people I will hopefully be friends with forever, but there is something special about off-campus friends. With them, it feels like the entire Northeast is ours to explore. On the weekends, we slip away to places I lay no claim over—a tradition that I have merely latched onto. Apple cider donuts on a faraway farm, Newbury Comics trips that last too long and result in unnecessary purchases, Friendsgiving bowling expeditions and movie viewings. If the objective of our time on this planet is to consume as much life as possible, then I am constantly succeeding with them, even if it just means playing Rummy and listening to Miles Davis with the lights dimmed in a stuffy Grad Center dorm room.
In the quiet moments when my mind betrays me, I waste energy thinking about how these traditions existed before me and may exist after me. Sitting down to write this piece, I began with an anecdote taking place in La Creperie as opposed to one from Geoff’s Superlative Sandwiches. That’s another Providence staple we often frequent, but Geoff’s is not mine to write about. Sophomore year, Griffin and Matt spent their Fridays attempting to try all of the dozens of options Geoff’s has to offer. Maybe I am only incidental, and who am I to wax poetic about a friendship that does not require me?
Despite the impulse to frame myself as an observer, writing a love letter to people who are not my own, my fear over being unneeded quells once I remember how we all became friends. It is absurd to me that I ever experienced Brown University without Griffin. A whole semester passed before we clumsily stumbled into a friendship thanks to a Jacques Khalip lecture. The first time I met Matt, I had tried to jump on a wall and sit on top of it. But I missed and instead gave myself bruises and scratches on my elbow (of which I can still see the scars)—not quite a picture-perfect beginning. Henry, for a long time was “the quiet friend, ” but now I realize he probably understands all the secrets of the universe. And I didn’t even meet Kelsey until a few months ago, but already, when I see flowers blooming despite the autumn coldness, I think of her. This friendship was haphazard until one day it wasn’t, and I’m lucky to be a part of that.
We leave La Creperie and walk across campus back to our dorm to watch the Red Sox win yet another game (thanks in large part to Henry’s lucky hat, which has not failed us this postseason); there is wackiness and lightness galore. Matt refuses to stop quoting lines about the Sopranos character “Uncle Pussy,” a joke that understandably confuses every passerby on the sidewalk. I trail behind a few steps, lost in the nighttime clouds with Big Star’s song “September Gurls” stuck in my head. I hear the line, “December boys got it bad” over and over, and in it, I instead see myself—a girl born in December falling in love with the music of our collective footsteps crunching the autumn leaves. I am consumed with the notion that perhaps beauty is not abounding but localized—all centered in this one mundane moment that feels like everything all at once as we walk southwards, together.