I met a girlfriend today for lunch at a restaurant on the Eastside, one of surprisingly few right on Lake Washington. It was hot and sunny, and the lake sparkled, all calm and placid, save for some small ripples caused by some YACHT coming into the dock. I dressed up for the occasion, mainly because I don’t have many opportunities to do so and this place takes everyone from shorts to suits. To go along with that, I used the valet instead of the complicated parking garage, so I was full-on LADY LUNCHIN’. Pretty day, pretty lake, pretty good.

I got there a few minutes before my pal, and got us a table outside. I looked at the menu and figured out my order, then asked for a bottle of San Pellegrino and sipped away , its slightly-bitter bubbles tickling my nose. Who else was lunchin’ today? I knew when three guys came by in dark suits on a hot day what that was about: The Big Law Firm Interview Lunch. The potential hire must not be local, I bet. They bring him to this place because it gives you such a beautiful view on a nice day – it looks like somewhere anyone would love to live. They must like the guy. If it were shitty weather they’d take him to the steakhouse and impress him with $120 Kobe beef medallions. If they didn’t like him all that much, they’d just go to a mid-range Italian joint that could get them in and out in an hour. Sure enough, they sit down, and the Hire-ee starts talking, somewhat nervously with quickness and lots of laughter, about how he flunked out of Cornell, then was re-admitted. Yes, just get that out of the way over the appetizers. I couldn’t decide if he was friendly or babbling.

Behind me, a couple of doctors went straight into work talk, about some new drug interaction warnings, working with a crabby nutritionist, and the crash of the billing system last week. In front of me, a middle-aged woman and her husband who say nothing to each other the whole time. Lots and lots of well-dressed lunchers, working, or not having to work at all.

My friend arrives, always with a warm greeting and a huge smile. She’s a force-of-nature kind of girl, who seems to effortlessly handle her work as a business-builder/reorganizer/bottom-liner, along with the substantial time she spends with her family and volunteer work. It would be hard to see her being any other way, really. She thrives on challenges, fixing things, doing things, making things work then finding more things to make work. She is always thoughtful, a good friend, always looking to make connections wherever she goes. I think she sleeps sometimes.

I feel like a bit of an imposter, my heels pinching into the top of my feet. The only place I have to go right after lunch is to get a coffee, and the word “have” is entirely replaced by the word “want.” I don’t really have anything to build or fix. All these people whir on around me, doing big things. I won’t ever know if Cornell Flunkenstein got an offer from the firm, what drugs might be interacting with my San Pellegrino, or if the middle-aged couple were mutes. My friend is starting a new job next week, and I wish her good luck, knowing of course that she makes her own.

I walk up the long set of concrete stairs that lead from the dock to where the valet is and hand the young guy my ticket. As he runs to get my car, I glance over at his stand. He is reading a book by Charles Bukowski, and his little portable white iPod speakers are playing Bishop Allen. I smile, and relax somehow. He returns and opens the car door for me, and I hand him a nice tip. He smiles widely and wishes me a great afternoon in the sun.

When I go up to the OOGCP for my coffee, the nice blonde behind the counter asks me what I do. I tell her I am a writer, not of any particular note or well-paid function. She smiles and tells me that is cool. What I feel like saying, with all the people in the restaurant still in my head, is that it isn’t so much that’s what I do. That’s what I am.

Be who you am, fancy lunch out or tuna out of the can at home, tall black heels or Nikes, grand-planning or tiny victories, or all of it all together in one big wonderful messy person. Use your napkin, please.