Coffee: Drip, Carolina Coffee Shop; it was sour enough to know it had been sitting out for a while. The restaurant was busy. Our waitress said she’d been on her feet since 8 am.
I’ve been eating at Carolina Coffee Shop for eighteen years, first going there every now and then on trips into Chapel Hill with my parents. I met my parents there today. It crowded. There was a UNC football game so I had to park in Carrboro and walk up. It was sunny, humid, but mostly pleasant. There were kids in blue polos, dads in blue polos, girls dressed better than their dates. I walked fast and checked my reflection in the windows. Lots of unfamiliar windows, new buildings, I looked five years younger in them. “I used to live here,” I kept thinking. You only get disgusted by places that grow up without you.
About 80% of the times I’ve eaten at CCS – which must be in the dozens – they’ve sat me in a booth on the western wall facing the door. The restaurant’s been renovated over and over but they keep on putting me there. The bar’s in arm’s reach. We’re halfway to the bathroom, halfway to the doors. If you swung a pendulum from the antiquated ceiling, it’d hit me square at the apex. I assume it’s cosmological: put me anywhere else and someone in China slips off a ladder; two-headed dogs are born; or all the whales beach on chilly coasts south of Anchorage.
Today, the view was my family on the booth-back, the struggling waitresses, foot traffic on Franklin. Yesterday, it was the same. For everything that’s changing, this one thing can’t. Everyone you’ve said goodbye to, all in one place.
I got the eggs benedict but traded ham for avocado. It was good. Next time, I’ll probably order the same.
Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith
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“How did it get so late so soon?” – Dr. Seuss