Spending money on coffeehouse coffee right now is not in our budget. Particularly a café au lait, which is essentially drip coffee with hot milk. We have coffee and milk at home, very near heating devices.
Planning ahead is going to be our key to survival during this personal economic crisis.
Yet, as I drove past the Mockingbird Cafe on the way to my Bay St. Louis studio this morning, my car found itself in the parking lot. Apparently the previous owner of this little white wagon trained it well. Who am I to break its spirit?
Very few coffee-splurgers were in attendance this morning, save for a few disheveled-looking middle-aged men leaning into their laptops and murmuring into cellphones. I made my way to the counter, placed my what's-the-cheapest-thing-on-the-menu-board order, and then wandered over to browse their from-scratch bread selection as the barista slaved over my drink that I should have made at home. Sourdough is a weakness of mine and the Serious Bread company, housed in the back of the Mockingbird Cafe, makes a mean rosemary garlic sourdough.
Wondering how I could justify $7 for a coveted loaf, I wandered back and hopefully asked the barista if the day-old breads were on sale. On occasion, I knew I had been charged half price and was hoping it was because of slight staleness and not simply generosity.
As I was embarrassing myself with my bread haggling, a man approached the counter beside me. It was clear that he needed something that would take only a moment, perhaps a refill or a napkin?, but was going to try to wait out my literal dough crisis ramblings.
I glanced at him to offer an "I'm almost done if this chick will just cave and give me the bread for half price because, um, yeah, that's where I'm stuck" smile when his face made me do a subtle double take. I knew this man. Possibly.
He was an older black gentleman, in charcoal pants and a button down shirt kept tidy under a fitted lemon meringue hued sweater. He stood erect, far more formally than the situation suggested, and smiled back in a slightly curious way.
I know him from somewhere.
When I worked in the French Quarter of New Orleans, I realized that I have a sharp eye for celebrity. I can spot one a mile away and from behind. Even if their only claim to fame was a TV movie in the 80's. I won't always know their name, but I can usually place their resume loosely enough to acknowledge them. That being said, I prided myself on not acknowledging that I recognized them until after I had already won them over with my "we're all just regular people here" approach.
The pleasant surprise on their faces when I slipped a quick "For instance, I Know My First Name is Steven was an interesting move for..." into the end of the conversation was always a sweet reward for my patience.
The things you do to occupy yourself during the long hot months of summer in Louisiana.
So here I am, hours later, and it is pestering me. Not so much that I still can't place him, but that I didn't just say something. For all I know, he's an international broadcast journalist hanging around the coffeehouse looking for quotes from us poor Mississippi folks before the inauguration. I bet he was just waiting for someone with something to say to walk in that door.
You know that is so me.
Which brings me back to my frustration. Because I know better. After all, today is Sunday.
Sundays hold some kind of mystical power over my inhibitions and I consistently find myself striking up conversations with strangers. Learning about the community around me and about myself, as we so often do as we attempt to truncate our interesting peccadilloes into bite size pieces for these new acquaintances to take home.
Sundays are always far too beautiful to stay home. The light is always a shade more inviting outside than it was even a day before. Rain or shine.
Sundays smell different to me. Crisper. Cleaner. More layered.
I wake up on Sunday mornings and feel a pull from outside of myself. As though some magnet has been placed overnight in some seemingly random spot across the county and activates upon my waking.
Sundays pull me to flea markets. Sundays attract me to museums. Sundays pry free my lips and shake my voice loose.
And I'm not a shy person to begin with.
I have so many stories to tell you about my Sundays. Stories jotted down in notebooks and then buried under to-do lists.
These happy accidents can only inspire more fortuitous finds and I think it's time I shake them loose from my memory. Making my Sundays an act of sheer will may prevent moments of missed opportunity like today with my mystery man. Hopefully, these moments shared may inspire you to find your own bit of serendipity on Sundays.
Starting next Sunday, I'm going to start sharing a chance encounter story a week with you. My own little feature, however reticent I have been to do anything predictable... because predictability is just one more ball for me to drop. But I'll give it a shot and see what pries free.
In the meantime, how do you spend your Sundays? Am I alone in sensing something different in the Sunday air? What do Sundays make you do? How do Sundays make you feel? What are you going to do about it this year?
If you prefer to write about it on your own blog, feel free to snag the graphic above.
If you've never commented before or rarely do, let me know you are there.
This is me shaking your voice loose.
Tell me about your Sundays.