cafe mama

entering the mind of the married mom

saying goodbye to places i have loved - July 10, 2005

When I walked past the soon-to-be ruins of Sunday this weekend - the construction fencing had gone up seemingly in an instant, the cranes had already moved in - I mourned, there, in an instant, so deeply I could feel it in my knees. The corner breakfast place I'd loved so well, the little restaurant that had gone up in the old burger/ice cream/teriyaki place in the matter of weeks. One month, newspaper covered the windows, the family who sold rice bowls and ice cream cones out the takeout window packed up and left. The next month, they were open, serving Stumptown Coffee and fried egg sandwiches that left me salivating for days.

Everett and I loved that place. We would walk there, in the afternoons, for late late breakfast and the coffee I so needed. Everett would eat sausage, or pancakes, and it was always worth it. Every time we walked past, Everett would ask, "can we go IN there?" because it was always a thing to desire.

When it closed, I flashed back to all the other places I'd loved and lost. Like Tani's Sushi, which was also located in an old burger joint. Tani, who used to serve up sushi in Soho way back when it wasn't even en vogue, got us through our pregnancy with Everett with the most amazing spider rolls, gigantic pieces of vegetable tempura, udon noodles that were toothy, miso soup we've never come close to anywhere else. After Everett was born, we feasted on tako salad, asparagus with spicy sauce, all manner of sushi and sashimi. Everett's first foods included rice and barbecued eel rolls. It closed when the developer decided to level it to make a strip mall. I planned to boycott the new business but it was a tanning salon. I tanned twice when I was 16. It wasn't a very effective boycott - it's not like I can take my business to some other tanning salon.

I remembered other restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries, whose life was too short, where I made memories never to be repeated. I fall in love, too hard, with these establishments. I save up my quarters to eat at these places, I take photos of my children there. My album is full of the ghosts of restaurants past.

I wondered how I could be so sad after such a short time - after knowing all along that Sunday would be fleeting. Their lease was always month-to-month. Their days were always numbered. I felt just as sad when Peanut Butter and Ellie's closed their eastside location. It was like a cute boyfriend, leaving for the rich girl from the west side. Why must I always love, and lose? And I remembered, the ghost that haunts me most. The barn.

When I lived in northern Virginia right after graduation from business school, I worked off the Dulles Toll Road in a fast-growing exurb called Ashburn. Right off my exit, before you passed the MCI campus, was a field. Just a field, with some dirt roads and old fences. One morning I even saw a fox, it was that wild. And in the pocket of field right off the exit was an old barn. It was a beautiful barn, and I loved it. It was like yoga for me. I'd pass by the barn and I'd forget that I lived in a hated suburb, forget that I worked far, far from New York and all my friends.

The barn was so stunningly lovely that I would often stop to photograph it. I took photos in fog, snow, spring, fall. I took photos full of color, photos entirely grey, photos in twilight, photos in brilliant sun. That barn meant something to me.

Nothing ever went on in those fields. Until one day, I turned off the toll road, and there was a wrecking ball. And over the next two days, my barn was turned to rubble, and then the rubble unceremoniously dumped in a construction dumpster. And it was gone. It was just a field. I've never been so crushed over the fate of a building. But that barn was alive to me, it was more than a friend, it was the very soul of Loudon County.

I soon moved away, back home to Portland, Oregon. I've never wished to return to Ashburn, Virginia, and I probably never will. The soul is gone.

I'm sure I'll happily patronize the businesses that go into what is to be called "Kupie Corner" here at SE 39th and Holgate. Starbucks will open with its ubiquitous green sign and its comfy chairs. Everett and I will go for chocolate cow (Horizon chocolate milk) and chocolate doughnuts. It will be our landmark - "turn at the Starbucks by the Kupie Cone sign!" and we'll run over there for Christmas gifts and bargain-priced clearance commuter mugs.

But Everett said it best. "They broke Sunday!" sadly. And, "I want them to FIX Sunday." We'll miss you, Sunday.