Saturday, May 06, 2017

El Arco Iris

On Thursday, April 27th, Aaron, Soren, and I went to the closing night of El Arco Iris, our favorite Mexican restaurant.  I discovered El Arco sometime during my freshman year at Occidental.  I honestly don't remember how.  If someone here introduced me, thank you.  I discovered their amazing nachos topped with chorizo, which became a fallback splurge when I wanted some yummy food.

Then when Aaron and I were dating during his freshman and my junior year, I took him to El Arco.  I continued to enjoy the nachos while he ate the crispy ground beef tacos with cheese and a double side of fluffy rice.

After our college years, we didn't return to El Arco until we moved back to the area in 2000.  We introduced Moira and Soren to the restaurant, which was always family friendly.  As Aaron and I got older and our diets changed, we started having their fajitas instead of the nachos and tacos.  And we also started enjoying their fantastic margaritas.

When we heard that El Arco was closing for good on Thursday the 27th, we decided to venture out and have our ORIGINAL orders of nachos and tacos for the last time.  Moira was busy, so it was just me and my guys.  And the place was PACKED!  At a table near the front sat an old lady—one of the original owners of the restaurant—rolling utensils into napkins.  A bouquet of roses with a card saying Thank You sat on the table. People went up to her and thanking her for all the wonderful meals they had at her restaurant.  The wait list was on the table with her, so I wrote my name down and we settled in for a long wait.  There were some spare chairs, basically in the middle of the restaurant, so we wheeled Soren over and set up camp. 

Soren was VERY excited to be at El Arco.  He’s always liked the lighting there.  And there was so much talking that he wiggled happily at the sound of it all.  I tried to take pictures of him, but Soren is very hard to capture.  Plus, as soon as a camera is directed towards him, he puts his head down.  He hates the paparazzi.  During our hour long wait, I also fed Soren via G-tube while Aaron got us margaritas.  Aaron also snagged chips and salsa from a passing waitress.  As time ticked on, we were fearful we weren’t going to get in before Soren started melting down.  But just as we were about to give up, the hostess called us over to our booth and we sat down.

As we did, a woman in her late 50’s-early 60’s came up to me.  She told me that she loved watching us with Soren, seeing how we interact with him.  This kind of thing happens to us now and again.  Strangers approach us in regards to Soren.  People in the market have blessed us.  A woman in a diner gave me 20 dollars for him.  It’s startling sometimes.  But it’s also very sweet.  And it’s much better than when people stare at the boy.  Anyhow, this woman was complementing me on how we treat him like any other kid.  I thanked her, expecting her to return to her table.  But instead, she began to tear up and sat down next to me.  She told me that her 35-year-old daughter is pregnant and the doctor just told her that the baby tested positive for Down syndrome. 
This woman was devastated.  She looked at Soren (who does not have Down syndrome in case anyone is confused), and just marveled at what a sweet boy he is.  I told her that people with Down syndrome could be very high functioning.  MUCH higher functioning than Soren!  Then she told me that the doctor told her daughter to have an abortion. 

Okay, now all I could think was, “I am not qualified to counsel this woman!”  But I told her that was a very personal decision that her daughter would need to make.  Then she said that her daughter wanted to keep the baby.  And that she wanted to be a grandma.  (She was really taking me on a roller coaster ride of emotions in a span of seconds, let me tell you.)  I said that if her daughter chose to keep the child, then they would love that baby and get him or her what they needed.  That there are early intervention programs for children with disabilities and therapies to help them.  She seemed encouraged by my words, thanked me, and left the table.  As she did, I thought about how happy I was that we went out that night.  And that we brought Soren.  Clearly seeing a family with a child with disabilities was something this woman needed.  

After that, Aaron and I then had a much-needed second margarita along with our nachos and tacos while Soren wiggled in his chair enjoying our final night at El Arco Iris.