Lunch at One Shell Plaza

So many years have passed since I moved to Houston, TX.  I've made a good life here, raised three daughters, developed professional careers, work as an artist and consultant, enjoy a wonderful network of friends and colleagues. Houston is my home. So where am I going with this?
Well, today, I was invited to lunch at the Plaza Club on the 49th floor of One Shell Plaza and the place itself provoked intense memories. So did the conversations of the women with whom I lunched.
In 1967, my former husband and I moved to Houston from New York City by way of Chicago, he to work for Gerald Hines Interests and seek his fortune.  His first day on the job, there was a ground breaking for One Shell Plaza. The building is a part of our history together.
I was 25 years old. In six months, I will be 70 years old. So that means that One Shell Plaza is fifty years old. Can that be?  Maybe. I've just subtracted 1967 from 2012 and I get 45 years, not 50. Yet I know I was 25 in 1967 and I will be 70 in 2012.  I am not good with numbers. I have friends who can attest to that. Will that friend who is especially good with numbers comment and let me know what's going on here?
Onward with my story. One Shell Plaza is entirely clad in Italian travertine; its lobbies and even its elevator cabs are coated with travertine. I remember travertine was big back then.  My former husband brought a sample slab home that we used for years as a table top on our deck. At some point it broke in two and all I have is the smaller piece which I've always thought could well be used as a platter for a buffet table. At least, I've saved it to use as a platter, always thinking it would do nicely when serving smoked salmon or sliced beef tenderloins. Again, I digress.
There were four of us at lunch and as we settled into conversation, I wondered at the serendipity of our being together. How do you choose people to share lunch in a particular setting? Who knows? Three of us are part of The Transition Network local chapter, the fourth woman I met just today.
We sat at our table, high over downtown, looking west toward the Galleria and beyond.  My eyes wandered beyond our table, surveying the Plaza Club.  I began to think about my marriage and I thought about the way big buildings come to be. I pondered my past as I lunched in that serene, well carpeted, quiet place with fine food, unobtrusive service and tables with stiff white linens. 
And as we ate smoked solmon, stuffed chicken breasts, steamed vegtables and salad, the conversation veered toward first marriages. All of us had them. Two at the table are happily remarried.
What surprised me is that as we spoke about these first husbands, we seemed to be telling the same story. How it was having kids with these men, how it was to take verbal abuse, how it was to stay in these marriages because it was the only marriage we knew and we could indeed try harder.
How common is it for four women to share lunch together and suddenly discover that we had very similar first marriages? For me, it was especially poignant, because I was conversing at the Plaza Club at One Shell Plaza.  The place itself brought memories and feelings I'd not had for a long time.

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