I had an hour and a half to myself, a book to read, and a café in mind. I pass little cafés in Cuyahoga Falls and picture myself sitting quietly at a table, enjoying coffee and a pastry. Until today, it’s just been daydreaming.
It’s hard to get an hour and a half to myself. And it’s even harder to convince myself to go to a café during that time if I do get it. There are always piles of paper to sort and put away, floors to sweep, dirty dishes to do, groceries to shop for…the endless list of daily to-dos. And then there’s the next level of to-do list: dentist appointments to make, rebates to apply for, wills to finish, invoices for work completed 6 months ago to submit, home budgets to review.
Cafés don’t make any to-do list in my world.
But today I went. To café number one, which was closed. I headed to café number two, which was also closed. I sat in my van for a minute and thought about going to Dunkin' Donuts instead, because I was using up all my time driving to closed cafés and at least DD would be open. I felt my bravery and momentum drifting away.
But I remembered one more café that I’ve seen and decided that would be my last attempt. I drove to Flurry’s, thinking about how these little cafés don’t really stand a chance if they aren’t open at 8am. But then I thought that the shop owners probably like sleep and their families and are trying to keep things in balance by not being open 14 hours a day, and I commend them for that. And at least I was alone in my van, listening to NPR.
Flurry’s was open. The sign said “Breakfast Served All Day” and “Kim – Owner,” and I thought, “This is my kind of place.”
I went inside and Kim said, “Table for two? One?”
“Just me,” I said.
She sat me at a bar stool in the kitchen. I felt exposed on the bar stool and thought about requesting a booth, but didn’t. I ordered the French toast that had “Cinnamon Roll” in the title and she poured me coffee. A Usual came in and sat at another bar stool. I looked up at the Garfield clock, his tail swinging the beat of each second. I heard Mumford and Sons playing on the radio.
Sandy came by to drop off some bananas, since today’s special was Banana Bread Pancakes.
I listened to the Usual talk about his latest ebay finds – a one-of-a-kind Harley Davidson t-shirt designed by Uhl and a Ralph Lauren polo with a teddy bear insignia. He asked Kim what the difference was between petite and junior clothing and she and I explained.
I drafted an outline for a letter to the School Board and drank my coffee. Every time I picked up my cup it was full, so I couldn’t tell you how many cups of coffee I drank throughout my visit. I heard my French toast sizzle on the grill.
Kim brought me my food and I ate French toast that tasted like Cinnamon Rolls. I read the novel I brought with me. Another man came in and sat at the bar stool next to me. I didn’t feel exposed anymore. I felt like I was in a community of coffee drinking, paper reading, alone people who weren’t lonely.
I read awhile longer. Kim put my leftovers in a wax paper bag. I paid my bill and gave an insanely huge tip. I wanted my tip to say, “I like it here.” And “I’m coming back.” And “Thank you for making me breakfast.” And “I like your weird clock and your taste in music.” And “Thank you for making me feel like a part of a community without pestering me.”
I went back to my van and felt myself take a deep breath. I felt my eyes almost tearing up.
Someone made me breakfast, and I didn’t have to do a thing. I got to eat a whole meal without getting up from my chair. I drank as much coffee as I wanted. I got to read a chapter of a book before 10am.
I love my kids and I know these intense years are short, but the days are long. Sometimes the minutes drag out to an eternity.
Today I got a deep breath. I feel like I can run a little longer now.
I’ll be back, Flurry’s.