Friday, February 21, 2014

Finding the Funky

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. 


  1. Unfortunately, that's Fairhope now. Your words are a great description. Please make a list of any other funky places you find while you are here. There aren't many left. Carolyn

    1. I didn't bring my camera this trip. I know there's a camera in my cell phone, so if I can teach it to send pix to my computer I'll post what I can find.

  2. Julwin's has great decaf!

  3. I happened onto a facebook page about growing up in the town where I grew up, and someone who had moved away wrote something like 'is anything still the same?' and someone else answered, 'not much.' I live in the next town from where I grew up, and the changes don't seem as shocking to me as they do to someone who is away and comes back to visit. Interesting phenomenon, that.

  4. Some of us have difficulty accepting that really everything has changed, therefore our cities and towns are going to evolve. Yet our hometowns are preserved in amber exactly as they were in our childhood in our hearts, and we resent the new people who have moved in and have no regard for their history or how we remember the local landmarks and landscapes. It's sometimes a painful path to walk.