AH! Memories of the days spent in Brooklyn working at the local cafe.
As a grateful senior, I laugh when my friends call me adventurous. You see, I've retired more than once. The first time I was 40 years old. It was a forced retirement as my late husband was ill and I became the head chief and caregiver. We'd moved across country to Palo Alto California and life was very different than in Florida. Our family settled in with the understanding we were not moving for at least 7-10 years as our youngest child was in grade school. This would provide her with a consistent education in one area given we had moved around a lot.
Our lives in Palo Alto lasted for about five years and then we moved back across country to Philadelphia. The city known as the 'city of brotherly love and sisterly affection.' Life in Philly (as the locals call it) was one adventure after another. In 2004, my husband died and again I found myself retired. Both children were out of the house and I no longer was a caregiver. And there I sat wondering how to fill my days and begin to live again.
After packing up the house and moving to D.C. to witness Barack Obama being sworn into office, I found myself in one of the most magical periods of my life. While in D.C., I began writing and became a published author. Other dreams came true: A performance at the Kennedy Center where I performed my own work. Meeting my new neighbors: the soon to be Vice President elect Biden and family along with George Clooney's parents. Exploring the nations capital. Being given 'the blessing' by H.H. Dalai Lama and really taking delight in all the city had to offer. Found the sweetest office space just off Dupont Circle. What a wonderful time! Yet my heart pulled me back to California after several years in the DMV ((commonly known as DC, Maryland, Virginia). After the move to Cali in 2015, I swore this would be my last move across country. Well, you know what they say ... "make plans and God laughs."
And after a couple of years I found myself ill with the doctors advising I leave California until the airborne pesticide that caused arsenic poisoning was banned. Arsenic poisoning is no joke! SO ... off I go back across country to live in Brooklyn to be closer to my daughter.
Brooklyn was never on my 'to do' list. Our family had lived in Manhattan for close to ten years. Brooklyn was always seen as a passageway to Long Island when we went to visit family. Moving to Bushwick which is an up and coming neighborhood in Brooklyn, felt like I'd landed in a foreign country. The smells of food in the air were from the Caribbean and South America. While the food was yummy, I hit a big stumbling block. The language of the locals was not my native tongue, English, and because I looked like the rest of the neighborhood shop owners would become frustrated that I didn't speak their language. At times, they would become angry as they thought I was denying my heritage. And Brooklyn is one of the boroughs in NYC that honors its diverse neighborhoods.
The one salvation was the local coffeeshop or cafe around the corner. The French pastries were delicious while funky music played and the air was filled with fresh brewed espresso. Everyone spoke English and if you got there early, you could get a good seat. As time went on, I began to find other nooks and crannies and other coffee shops nearby. Life at the cafe's were interesting as I got to know the locals. Over the last year, I've wondered how the cafes survived as many were new and just getting a strong hold in the neighborhood. During 2020, I wondered how many of them would survive. And I'm hoping for the owners especially of small businesses, that they are able to adapt to this new way of life.
Life at the coffee shop was magical! And, I am hoping that there will come a time when people can sit down and get to know the locals again!