My wandering brings me to a restaurant called “The Sunshine Cafe”. It is an unassuming place that gets sold and renamed every few years but that somehow remains the same. It is comfortingly and immutably plain.
I am greeted by a middle-aged host with a sincere smile. I am led to my table and notice that at 48 years of age I am the youngest patron. I feel relaxed. Youth wishes to display its full bloom. It seeks acceptance, love and desire. It is beautiful and exhausting. There is nothing exhausting about this wonderfully mediocre place.
There is an elderly woman hooked up to an oxygen tank two tables to the right of mine. She is smiling and conversing with a friend while wearing a bedazzled sweatshirt. I am struck by the contrast between the shiny child-like clothing and the oxygen tank that suggests she is close to death’s door. My chest feels warm, my eyes fill with tears and I get that overwhelming feeling of love that overcomes me from time to time.
The wait staff is comprised entirely of Latin-x folk. I am sitting among two populations that are marginalized and invisible. I realize–having been raised by two elderly Mexican grandparents–that this contributes to the ease I feel here. I think of the Hemingway short story “A Clean Well Lighted Place” and and wonder if perhaps this can be my Not-That-Clean-Not-That-Well-Lighted-Place.
I order a turkey sandwich and a coffee. I have nothing much to say about the food; I can neither recommend it nor speak ill of it and somehow that adds to my enjoyment. When the server approaches to offer me more coffee I decline and tell him that I don’t wish to have insomnia tonight. By sharing that I suffer from insomnia I feel pleased at walking the line between the personal and impersonal: a personal bit of trivia that adds to my humanity without giving too much away.
With my belly now full I begin my walk home to the apartment.