Melt in your mouth, morsels of steam fried dumplings. Lemon chicken that is crisp and crunchy on the outside, yet smooth and soft on the inside, balanced with the most delicate lemon sauce. Indulgent deep fried spring rolls. Champagne popped. Wine flowing.
Every few weeks, a reservation for eleven is made at a restaurant in Melbourne. Eleven cousins, getting together, often after work, just to unwind, drink some great wine and share some great food. We are always the loudest table. The table that everyone turns to look at, as another roar of laughter erupts. The table that all the waiters either try to avoid or they linger at and join in the conversation.
Over the years, there have been many reservations for eleven. Each night a stage set for new memories. There have been some restaurants, we haven’t dared return to. Sometimes we can be too loud and too raucous to risk going back! Other nights have been more sombre, and the conversation set at deep and meaningful.
We always order too much food. Always leave the kids at home. Always indulge in a little cousin heckling, ending in tears of laughter. The last reservation for eleven ended with the one of us daring the waiters to get their groove on. To our complete shock, the volume was turned up loud, Gangham style blasting, and our waiters going Gangham style crazy right there next to our table! The laughter was uncontrollable.
The atmosphere is contagious around us. You cannot help but get absorbed. Absorbed into letting go of inhibition, kicking back and allowing yourself to “just be” for a change. I indulge in these nights. Soak in the connection that we all have. I sit and wish upon the Universe that our relationships only keep getting stronger.
Deep down, I hope that by setting this example, my boys can grow up reaffirmed in the notion that family is the most important. They may only be two brothers, but they have a connection with their cousins that is far reaching. Greater than any social or professional network they may be part of.
Social media gives us the false illusion that we are staying connected. It is nights like these where we are really connecting. Nights where one cousin in his business suit sitting next to another in his polo top and base ball cap – have everything in common.
Do you ever catch up with friends or family in large groups?