We had a lulu of a thunderstorm last night. Heavy rains, flashes of almost-blinding light, loud crashes of thunder. It started about 3 A.M. and by 4:30 had tapered to a pleasant drizzle, coaxing sleep. Then a very loud clap to wake us up at the same time it blew out the electricity for blocks.
I went back to sleep without identifying that pop. I knew only that it wasn’t thunder and that it was very close to my cottage. When I woke up I saw there was no clock glowing, the lights didn’t turn on, and when I stuck my head out the door someone said, “The electricity it out—but it’s on over on Church Street.”
I dressed and gathered my laptop and drove to The Coffee Loft, one of the places I know is open for coffee before 8 A.M. I treated myself to sugar (raw) and half-and-half in my coffee, and a stale oat muffin that the server assured me was sweetened with only applesauce. I found a formica-topped table with a very lumpy chair, seated myself at my laptop, and never had a breakfast I enjoyed more.
Fairhope is full of chic new dining places. They don’t really have a place for breakfast and wi-fi, but The Coffee Loft works for me. I knew by the time I had done all my work on the Internet, checked the online edition of the NY TIMES, posted the pic of a formerly famous movie star on what would have been her birthday on Facebook, I could get home to the cottage and rustle up a proper breakfast.
I think the Coffee Loft probably reminds me more of “old” Fairhope than anyplace else in town, besides maybe Julwin’s, the old diner-style restaurant that has stood in the same place since I was a child. (It doesn’t have wi-fi, and its coffee is terrible, or I would have been there.) The CL has deliberately mismatched chairs, wobbly tables, and usually a rather large crowd. This morning I was early enough to have it practically to myself. Southern accents clashed around me, as men appeared to be discussing business, but they were not distracting or abrasive although I confess I may have been eavesdropping a smidgen as I tried to guess what they were talking about.
I’ve been driving around for two and a half weeks, hoping to find pockets of the funky Fairhope of my memory. I can come across a corner with a somewhat rundown house, but it is usually flanked by oversized new houses. Often there is a FOR SALE sign on the rundown place. Once in a while I'll spot a familiar neighborhood with a whole block that is almost untouched, but they are very rare.
So when I find a comfortable, funky spot it is a bit of a revelation. In time, I won't be so preoccupied with what is gone or what is changing. I'll embrace what Fairhope is and shut up about what's been lost. In the transition to that happy adjustment, I pass the time finding what funk I can.