Dear Long Distance:
Yesterday morning, after waking up, I put on the previous day’s pants and shirt, went to Dunkin’ Donuts for a cruller and coffee. I thought I would sit in the shop, watch people come in and out at the starts (or in some case, the ends) of their days. It was only 6:30, the day still like a fog, the gray haze of a sunless day that gave the world a Scottish feel, like marauding armies are waiting to strike. I have not sat in a Dunkin’ Donuts since I was a child. My dad would drive us to one fifteen miles away from our home and I’d get an orange juice and a strawberry frosted donut and he’d read the paper and drink coffee and give me the rundown on the previous day’s baseball games. I loved those donuts but somewhere along the way they changed the frosting and now it’s like eating pink plastic. Anyway, yesterday’s donut shop was depressing. It was filled with older folks who sat in groups at tables. Some read newspapers or worked on crosswords. One man had a severe shrieking cough. They said nothing to one another, looked at me once or twice. Looking at them, I couldn’t help but feel that they were dropped off here, that there was nothing else for them to do. People came and went, some their age with two coffees. If my dad were still alive, I can’t imagine he’d be one of these folks. He’d be one to come and go. He always had things to do.
I remember when Dad drove home, I’d look out the window from the back seat and count the old Volkswagen Beetles. Dad would fiddle around with AM radio, settle on songs from the 50s. I remember one time counting 47 of those cars. Yesterday, I decided to count them driving home and I saw not one. I kept driving until I saw one. It was cherry red and was sitting in a repair shop parking lot. I smiled, wondered, how many miles does it have, how many stories could it tell? Then I went home.
All the best,