Friday, May 06, 2016

To the young waiters in Den & Trang

Thank you for the smile of recognition after two years. And the questions you clearly want to ask (as do I), but we have never had enough of the other’s language to go beyond `orders and bills.

So thank you, in writing, for still being here. I saw the scaffolding next door from a distance and I thought you’d closed, and I really needed you to still be here today. That's one of the reasons I am sniffling at my laptop. I’m sorry about that, but there’s nobody here and anyway this is my table.

I notice your piano’s still here. So are the weird aquarium decorations, though I see the drowned giraffes and elephants have been taken out. I guess someone has begun to take a practical look at the place and monetize it. Your menu is the same but the food has improved and the coffee deteriorated. You have new tables and chairs; the old black and white sewing machine tables are being phased out. You are selling the cacti that used to sit on your tables – I wish I could take one, except I don’t like cacti and I can’t bring your mainland soil into the island I live on now. And tell me, have the creepers hanging down your wall always had plastic ones mixed with the real? They used to smell of rainforest when it rained; I doubt they’ve invented plastic that can do that. That's okay, change happens. It’s a good thing in the long run, even if you did like those little wooden giraffes - I remember you seemed to. They amused me too, every time.

I got two tiny tattoos yesterday, they stand for transformation and integrity, my two defining qualities. My lightness has gone too, but those remain unchanged.

I will leave soon, sooner than I expected. Meanwhile thank you for remembering my table, for having noticed that I used to like the wind chimes and waving apologetically to the tree where they no longer hang. I come here not only for the friends I miss every day, but also for the place where I am equally happy to be alone. And that's your fundamental quality that is unchanged. May there be other cafes for me wherever I go, and other regulars for you.

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