I am at my favorite diner. It is the day after Thanksgiving. Somewhere, there are turkey leftovers and turkey hangovers. Some families got together yesterday, huge gatherings, some of which were delightful (my family’s gatherings are generally grand and wonderful.) and others are strained and difficult, full of emotional land mines. Mine, it was my wife and I and while people seemed to feel sorry for us, it was nice day, just the two of us and no responsibility to anyone else.
I am at my favorite diner. There is a “For Sale” sign outside. After almost three years, nearly two of them navigating the pandemic, and then the dearth of people to work here, they have had enough. They have built this place people love to come and have to cancel days of opening because there is not enough help. It is hard work, running a small restaurant, in any time. It hs been brutal the past couple of years.
These are the fifth owners since I moved up here twelve years ago, and by far the best. The food is superior. Calling it a diner is really an insult. They fix really good food. They are personable. They have blazing fast internet so I can do any work I want, even Zoom meetings. My neighbors come here, so I can catch up with people. And of course, the cook and owner is a musician and chooses the best music. No canned track here. Today it is the Greatful Dead.
The wife of the cook/owner is an artist, and for years she has let me display and sell paintings from my corner.
My corner you ask? Yes, I have a table in the corner. I am generally the first person here. (this morning I was here at seven, when they open) and I settle in the corner and write and work. It’s kind of a joke locally. If I come in and others are at that table, they always apologize for taking ‘my” table.
The truth is, I don’t mind. Most of the tables are fine. All I need is a place to plug in my computer, and there are plenty of those.
The diner is for sale. That saddens me. Like I said, these are my fifth owners, and by far my favorite. But I have adapted to all of them, and I will adapt to the new ones as well. (Assuming they continue to do breakfasts.).
I have been here in Vermont twelve and a half years. It’s kind of a bucolic place, this little Southwestern corner of the state. Farms. Small towns. Lots of little local enterprises and artists and small businesses like this one. It’s the kind of place where you drive through and say “Nothing changes here.”
But of course, it does. I cannot tell you how many businesses have gone under since I have been here, how many farms have changed hands, how many barns have burned down, how many funerals I have done. In my mind, everything here has changed. There has been a lot of loss. A lot of loss.
But there has been a lot of new things too. I moved up here alone. I had not been here long before my daughter chose to move here and stay, and as she went off to college, my son followed suit. Each of them were changes, changing the whole fabric of my life, the whole energy of the household. As my son went off to college, I met and married my wife, and we went through the process other second marriages go through, taking households and lives that were two versions of “mine” and making them “ours. Another whole new energy. I have gone from being an occasional pen and ink artist to an abstract artist with a studio and a side income I never would have imagined twelve years ago. I went from a broken wreck, to a healing wreck, to a stable soul. to a part-time pastor. Not bad for a twelve-year journey.
That’s a lot of change. And I am grateful, even if it sometimes makes my head spin, wondering what is next.
Thanksgiving was good for us. I am lucky to be married to someone I like being with. A few days of nothing due, no work to do, and just time to hang around and talk and read and be lazy was nice. We had expected to go to Virginia and were disappointed when we couldn’t. But you know what? It was nice. Nice to just stop. To run on our pace for a change.
We spent a lot of time on FaceTime yesterday. Catching up with kids and sisters and family, smiling and waving. Glad to be part of a family, even when are spread apart. Glad that mostly, they are all doing well. Mostly though, I was a vegetable. I didn’t get around to fixing my little turkey breast dinner until late last night, and even then, it was a whim. I would have been fine with a bowl of Cheerios.
It was foggy, driving the ten-minute trip from my house to my favorite diner. The landscape was cast in muted Andrew Wyeth colors. I drove slowly, savoring it all. Noting the changes that have come here since I arrived twelve and half years ago. There have been a lot of them. Yes, to me, this is a whole different place than where I arrived.
This morning, the day after Thanksgiving, I am finding myself counting blessings. A day late, maybe, but then, when it comes to gratitude, do calendars matter?
One of the things about aging, is that you gain perspective. You have lived and seen enough to see the patterns in my life. And for me, one of the big patterns is how often the right person, or the right situation arrived at the time I needed it most. When I needed help, helpers showed up. When I needed healing, healers arrived. When I needed, when I was ready for love, love came to my life. Not always when I wanted it, but when I needed it. Not, sometimes, without going through incredibly hard times now and again, but when I needed certain kinds of people in ,my life…. they arrived.
I could count my blessings. Or at least I think could. There are a lot of them and at times they are disguised as challenges. But I could try. Instead, I just rejoice in a God, a life, that has never let me fail but so much, has never let me founder but so much, never let me break beyond the irretrievable point. I always seem to be restoreable.
It is my belief that we can all live this way, in faith, and when we do, we are, somehow, refreshed, renewed and restored. And that process is magical. Certainly worth celebrating, even a day late.
To all of you who have been and are part of my constant process of restoration. thank you. I am grateful for you all, more than express sometimes. Because of you, I can look forward to the next changes in life, whatever they may be, not with trepidation, but confidence that life is an adventure that I will not just survive, but grow and thrive in.
Thanksgiving indeed, I wonder who the next owners will be.
Be well. Travel wisely,