For the last four years, I’ve patronized a café across the street from the courthouse in my hometown.
‘Patronized’ doesn’t fully do justice to the relationship I had with this establishment. It was my island of calm. It was my office. It was my home away from home. The staff became my family – the customers my friends. Whenever my old high school and college classmates wanted to have a get-together or just sit down and shmooze, it was always at the café.
Every December 23, I would hold a Festivus lunch at ‘my table’, complete with metal pole and the “Airing of Grievances”.
A month or so ago, the owner (who was also my high school prom date) broke the news to me that the café was up for sale. My heart sank. ‘If someone doesn’t buy the place, I’m going to be homeless!’ was my only thought.
Virtually every one of my essays in this bl*g and started as a tiny scribble on the back of a business card or on a napkin while I was enjoying a pot of green tea or a Diet Coke at the café. Many of my days would begin and end there. There was no other place like it in the area. Coffee and doughnut shops didn’t come close. Restaurants just didn’t stack up. None of them have the quiet ambiance and sense of comfort I had when I was at the café.
The chair with its back against the wall was ‘my chair’. The glass top table was ‘my desk’.
This afternoon, Thursday June 30, 2011, I was the last customer served, the last customer to leave. At 4:00 pm, the café closed its doors for the last time.
A large part of me faded away today with the loss of that little place.