Sitting at my regular table in the back of the back room at my evening cafe in Berkeley, I can look out the front wall of windows to the donut shop across the street. In the window of the donut shop is a sign made of led lights that gives the lottery prize amounts for the upcoming big games. Tonight’s PowerBall pot is full of $221 million dollars.
As I sit at my table at the cafe, I should maybe be doing other things, but I’m thinking beautiful thoughts about what I would do if I woke up tomorrow and was magically turned into a princess worth quite a bit of money. I always think that I would be pragmatic about owning that much green paper and do very wise and altruistic things with it, not only for myself, but for others as well. I would bank a lot of it and put myself on a budget. Most of all I would remember who my friends are, and who my friends aren’t. I think it’s a bit dangerous to say what I would actually do with that much coin. People might hold me to it. But I do have a plan …
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I spend a lot of time in cafes. It’s a way of life, a way of living, a way of viewing and observing the world as it moves about. Cafes are on my list of things to do as I travel the world. Sitting in them for hours on end gives an introduction into the culture of a place – through food, and through drink, and through community. Cafes are where you can hear the local neighborhood gossip and find out what’s what.
Hanging out in this one for months at a time has embedded me into the community. I eavesdrop on the tutors who help their students through their daily lessons. I watch movies on my laptop, read a book every now and then, I write, I work, sketch in my journal, eat dinner with a friend from time to time, celebrate birthdays, watch the men knit and spin yarn in their knitting group, the gamers play board games, the psychics give readings, and I wave to the other regulars as they pass by looking for a table – forgetting names but remembering faces.
It’s a life, this cafe – any cafe is a living thing.
Every neighborhood should have at least one, don’t you think?