11:33 a.m. on a Tuesday at Tupinamba Cafe in North Dallas.
Welcome to Snapshot, a feature here on Central Track that aims to slow things down a bit by taking the time to appreciate and examine the overlooked slices of life that occur all around us. Through exploring an intersection, watching a neighborhood, observing a moment or taking a peek behind an oft-forgotten corner, this photo series aims to capture the sights and sounds of Dallas and the surrounding areas — things that most people might zip right past without a second glance. Here, we demand a deeper look.
11:33 a.m. on a Tuesday at Tupinamba Café in North Dallas. Arms linked, three women stroll through a shopping center off of Walnut Hill Lane and Central Expressway. A short distance later, the doors to a nearby restaurant are opened for them — in a manner that suggests that, automatic or not, doors just seem to magically open for this group wherever they go.
Faces soften and a trail of smiles appear on the faces of their fellow diners inside the cafe as these old friends stride through the dining room to a secluded room in the back where a batch of even more familiar faces await their arrival.
This group of women refers to themselves as “The JULIETS” because, as they're happy to remind anyone in earshot, it's Just Us Ladies Into Eating Together. One member of the group, Pauline, recalls that these monthly brunch gatherings began all the way back in 1986. Husbands have come and gone. Employment, too. The group has changed a lot since it started — some members have joined the fold to replace others — and, Pauline imagines, it will only continue to do as it further ages.
Time has a way of getting in the way. These women all belong to a small Presbyterian church nearby — one, they're sad to report, is getting smaller by the year, down to a congregation of about 100 from the healthier 600 it once boasted. The younger families moving into the area, these ladies note, mostly attend the Catholic church down the road.
Also almost completely gone is a similar group to this one that once called itself the Old ROMEOS. Only four members of that all-male group remain, the rest having passed away. Their meetings have stopped, though, with most of those survivors no longer being able to drive.
The JULIETS have made some concessions as well; whereas they used to meet on weekends, they now gather on weekdays to avoid larger crowds.
The brunches continue out of sheer will. The JULIETS are well-aware of how precious these brunches are. For many of these women, these gatherings represent their primary social gatherings outside of church. Were they younger, they might be tempted to stay in touch through social media — a concept that aims to bring us all together and to keep us all more closely connected with one another. But there's nothing all that meaningful about clicking “like” on a status, is there?
No, virtual friendships aren't enough in this life. And it's important to be reminded about this fact from time to time.
These ladies, get that. They know all too well the value of spending quality, face-to-face time with one's girlfriends. There's a reason, after all, why they've been meeting like this for 30 years now.