I was thinking today about my favorite places to eat. Eddie’s Diner comes to mind first. I’ve written about Eddie’s on this blog before, an old-fashioned greasy spoon where the burgers are char-grilled and there are free refills on the soda and coffee. I spent many Sundays there with my dad and other family members. Then he died and the rest went their separate ways. I went there not long ago after not going there for a long time because of the Lockdown. Now the place just looks old and dingy with a lot of downcast people seated alone at tables or at the counter. I took my food to go.
There’s Tia Rita’s where I used to meet with dear friends where we would laugh for hours over chips and salsa and guac. Then the pandemic hit and some moved away and others just died. The sense of loss over departed friends and our glory days gone by is so great that I cannot go in there anymore.
There was a dim sum place downtown that I loved to visit with friends, but it shut down two years ago because of the lockdown, and I don’t believe that it has reopened.
Lately, when I have wanted to get out of the house and be around people, I have been getting morning coffee at a brick and mortar bookstore/coffee house that by some amazing miracle survived the Lockdown. I usually sit outside in one of their huge orange Adirondack chairs with my coffee and pastry. I usually have my writing notebook which I bring just as a pretext to explain why I am sitting there all alone. What I am really doing is people-watching: The mothers with their babies in strollers, young couples walking hand-in-hand, the guys on their fancy Italian bicycles, groups of college-aged kids collaborating in some study group, and every breed of dog imaginable walking with their humans.
I am envious when I see them to the point of aching.
It is strange how our engaging in ordinary activities— like going out with friends and family for a good meal— can change almost overnight. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are never going back to the way it was before the pandemic. At least I can’t.