This morning I went and had breakfast at the Capitol Park Cafe. For one, I wanted something other than yogurt and flax seed, but more importantly, I needed to hang out with some of my old dudes.
The Capitol Park Cafe is located in a seedy part of town, under a residential motel. You can get a good breakfast for under 5 bucks, and a super crappy cup of coffee. The waitress is awesome, and the clientele are mostly older. Some of the clientele are just down on their luck young folks, and at least one guy who came in was obviously coming down off of something and just looking for a warm place to sit. Why the hell would I go someplace like this by choice? Well, I need to remind myself of where my life could go if I don't stay on track and do all the things I'm currently doing, so that I don't end up homeless or in a residential hotel. I've been mighty close before, and I don't ever want to go back there.
Also, there is the selfish reason that I really love listening to old men tell stories. I like to hear a grumpy proclamation of, "If Obama gets re-elected I'm going to jump off a bridge!" Yes, I actually heard that this morning while I was eating, and I laughed out loud while sitting at the counter. I love listening to older folks talking about how they used to own property in this or that neighborhood, or how different things were back in the day. I like romantic stories of the things that used to be.
The plate I got was a chorizo skillet. It came on a cast iron skillet and was delicious, and far too much food. Most of the time as I'm leaving there I'll find someone just sipping coffee and act like them taking my food would be doing me a favor. "Hey man, you hungry? I already packed lunch so I don't have use for this stuff but I sure don't want to toss it out." The folks there are prideful. The last thing I want to do is make them feel like I'm giving them a hand out. They more than likely wouldn't take it if I did.
I know that because I'm not having kids, I will have to take care of myself when I get older. Most of the folks at this joint are in that exact boat. Sadly, when listening to them most of them actually do have kids who just aren't able to, or choose not to, help them out. I most certainly don't understand that. Especially because I am more than likely going to be the one taking care of my folks when they can't do it anymore. Which is fine by me, 'cause they took care of me for more years than were required while I wasn't taking care of myself. Not just my childhood, but through many years of my alcoholism.
I need places like this cafe in my life. I need to visit them often so that I can appreciate what I have. I need them so that I can appreciate that sometimes an old dude sitting at a counter by himself likes the smile and "Good morning!" I have to give. I need them so that I can look at the waitress behind the counter, with prison tattoos, and missing teeth, and know that's the road I used to be traveling down. I need to see these people as people who are amazing and have their own stories, and not someone to avoid looking at as you pass them on the street. Too many people do that, and I never want to be one of those people.
Happy picture of the day: Coolest.Picture.Ever.