Thinking about bars . . .

. . . I am reminded of one where conversation rarely strikes.  Cafe de la Presse, in San Francisco, has become my regular cafe of choice for breakfast.  Being on my own I skip any waiting line and take a seat at the bar where I sit with my coffee – rich, strong, smooth and black, in a contented cone of silence.  Sometimes I have a book with me but more often than not it sits on the counter, a companionable prop to the developing narrative of time and place.

Out on the street, the Cat Lady passes by.  Over on the other corner outside Starbucks the beggar in the wheelchair gets up from his chair and props his card (back in 5 mins?) up on the empty seat before walking into Starbucks.  He comes out with a newspaper and takes it to a bench further up the steep street where he sits beneathe the shade of a tree to catch up on all the events.  Open top tour buses trundle by and absolutely everyone with a camera stops to take a photo of the gate to Chinatown.

My simple order of poached egg, toast and jam invites a query from a woman sitting near me.  The menu is rich with early morning French delights and the woman recognises with envy the comfort of warm toast.  I have more than enough on my plate and so we share. And we talk.

She has come to California from Switzerland to see the sights, starting with San Francisco.  Tomorrow she begins her solo drive from SF to LA in a hire car and she is slightly anxious.  Two years ago in real time, two minutes ago in her time, her husband of many years died. “He was one of the good ones.” she said.  Her shoulders might have shrugged in the telling but her eyes were pools of loving memory. Some of her friends, she went on to tell me, have not been so lucky with the “bad ones” yet to die.

We talk about family, Europe, London and the US.  Postcards and snapshots from life in different places at different stages. We share our fascination and love of LA, always a difficult translation, and whilst neither of us would ever want to live there, we adore the exploration it has to offer.

Come with me, she ventures!  It would be so much fun!  Which indeed it most certainly would be, but, while toast and time are simple enough to share it is the thought that counts, and, declining her kind offer I wish her well on her journey.

Life, so full of open roads, is out there and ours for the taking.  With or without the cat!