Perhaps this post, much like Tim’s ode to being a part of Ward Six (still), should be really titled, “Things we violently and suddenly realized were being taken for granted, but which we will never, ever again take for granted because we are aware now of the error in our ways and are extremely grateful, promise!”
Too long? Perhaps, but this is how I feel about The Argonaut.
The Argonaut is so long in my neighborhood consciousness, I rarely think about the first time I ate there, on a quiet weekday evening several falls ago. I don’t think of our amazement at the beer list anymore; and I don’t think of what used to be my favorite place to sit– one of the booths which helped separate the downstairs into two sections: a small section, closer in to the kitchen; and the larger, triangular section to the east.
I seldom remember the day our deeply independent then-three-year-old set off on foot because he wanted to walk to The Argonaut, he loved it so: I refuse to think about the endless minutes searching for him; or to recall the amazing and infuriating determination in his voice, assuring us that, having been found on South Carolina Avenue headed toward 12th street, SE, he was positive he was going in the right direction. (No.)
I’ve been, instead, focusing on that Father’s Day one year ago, when I found out that The Argonaut had burned down. “To the ground?” I remember asking. Did it matter? Thank goodness for DCFD and their quick response, but the damage was done: bricks and mortar notwithstanding, the place was well and gutted. Driving past the site was depressing. The summer, with its promise of outdoor seating and a cold beer and a seeming respite from responsibility didn’t happen– it didn’t happen at The Argonaut, at any rate. The pretty pots with morning glories that climbed up trellises did not bloom. The shuttered windows looked maimed and wounded. The fire damage was evident –most of all at night, when the corner was dark and lonely. That corner of the Starburst dimmed.
But The Argonaut has returned and on Sunday, they celebrated the first ever Phoenix Fest, with music and moonbounce and firetrucks and much merriment. Our dear neighborhood friend has returned from a long and strange voyage in the land of the lost and has risen majestically: a beautiful, shining phoenix, glowing and radiant, spiraling out of the ashes. A shining phoenix with an even better beer list; a locals’ night; a dogs’ night; and a very crowded trivia night; and happily, still with some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, starting with Shaaren and Scott. A phoenix with sweet potato fries that will make you swoon; and a phoenix where you go toast your successes; celebrate your happiest days; seek refuge from the monotony; and mourn your great losses and changes, because you know you will be treated almost as if you were family.
If I ever took you for granted, dearest Argonaut, I certainly do not now.