There is a familiar spot here in great St. Louis, where people flop inside or outside, leaving their troubles behind for another time. Actually, this hang-out is located in a toy town called Kirkwood, about ten miles from the chocolate color of my dusty garage door.
When summer begins to wane the weather is perfect, like this time of year. Today, barely a soul of young or old can be found inside the multiple front doors of the welcoming café. Instead, eagle eyes scan the outdoor crowd, looking for any sign of movement in case an imaginary “Vacancy” sign pops up. Deep breaths are taken. Fresh air is inhaled while lungs expand. Ahhh, relaxation begins!
It is here that a new discovery is made each and every time I visit. Who would think that a simple, non-descript patio made of concrete cement would have such an impact on my life? And, yet it does. This is my Happy Place. A corner of wired tables in black with matching chairs on top of grey. Wait…take a seat, sit down to rest your feet. Shhh, watch and listen. This is a haven full of people who are living in the moment.
Do you see what I see? There are mothers pushing strollers, babes in arms, Daddies giving horsy-rides and coffee cups made of china white. Children riding scooters, chocolate milk clutched in little hands, bikers, joggers, bunnies in wagons and toasted bagels laden with cream cheese. Kisses on cheeks, grandparents carrying toddlers, and dogs-of-all-kinds. Pacifiers in pink or blue, books being read and luxury leashes made of leather. Working laptops, baked banana bread so good, couples on first dates, I-phones, singles and fountains splish-splashing. Love is in the air, walkers, bottles filled with water, smiles, secrets and even bellies-SO BIG!
My husband clasps my hand to find me the best seat. He pulls out my chair before inquiring what I’d like to sip and eat. “A vanilla cappuccino,” he asks, expecting a “Y.E.S.” Next, his words so sweet, “A cinnamon roll warmed for you?” He is the very best man and I am the luckiest of women. Soon he comes back with my treats.
While nibbling, I stop to “people watch,” snap a few pictures, and meet new friends. The sun feels warm to my skin, pinking my cheeks. Next to me, I meet the cutest Labradoodle who excitedly poses for me. And then, a “Hallmark” moment begins.
A few feet away, the sweetest girl of young reaches up and over on tippy-toes to kiss her loved one so dear. She has long and lovely dark hair, wears shorts and seems to surprise the woman who is older than she. My heart skips a beat.
Seconds go by. The freshly kissed woman passes our table. My husband smiles, pointing to our phone. “Look,” he says, stopping her. A gentle grin, big and wide slides over pretty, white teeth. She is touched by what she sees, going on to tell us a bit about her lovely grand-daughter.
Looking across at her table, she notices more seats taken. Chairs pulled out. Tennis shoes underneath. This time by her husband together with a darling, young grand-son wearing metal and leather braces strapped to thin legs. Briefly, we talk about Chronic Conditions. “He was born with clubfeet,” she says, speaking of her other darling one. “He’s already had several surgeries,” she adds, “with more to come.” She speaks matter-of-factly, with no hint of ‘woe-is-me‘ in her voice when she glances over at her loved ones.
There is no doubt, no question in my mind that this is where I am supposed to be. Right now, right here at this moment in time. A new Life Lesson for me today. How special it is to have and hold this “Hallmark” tip-toed kiss upon a grandmother’s lips! From an innocent grand-daughter to her loving grandmother. A story of life trials chock full of smiles on this very morning. Lucky for me.
No matter how brief, this will forever be “My Happy Place.”