Falsely, for once, I assumed that whatever mind webbing I was spinning by moonlight would fit right into the writing prompt for this week’s Finish the Sentence Friday. So I ran with it, like I usually do, listening to “Rare Bird” by Toad the Wet Sprocket and the occasional coyote howl (they’ve been mostly leaving me alone this week). Then I fell asleep to the sounds of my own heartbeat and breathing, and sank into a dream that gave more words to keep moon-spinning.
It’s a story for another day, though, because my story isn’t about road tripping (very much not) and I can’t go off-topic. And not before going on an Ottawa road trip adventure later today!
For now, though, it’s a story about Miss Florence Diner:
The summer I turned four, and only weeks after my father had passed away, my mom and uncle took my sister and me on a road trip to New Hampshire. My grandparents lived their winters in a permanent house in Florida and their summers in rotating New England-style houses in New Hampshire and Vermont. The kinds of houses you might read about in a book or see in a movie, with gravel driveways and lobster pots. Loft bedrooms and the comforting smell of cedar. Bay windows with cool breezes through the open windows. I currently write this in a loft office overlooking a pine forest. In New England. The apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree, does it?
Memories are hard to come by from the bottom half of 1984. I remember the beginning part well. I remember my father’s death alarmingly well. And then, I remember 1985 and on. The late summer and fall and winter of 1984 and 1985 carry few memories. Except this one little memory from this one little this road trip back home to NJ from New Hampshire, or was it vice versa? We stopped, somewhere in the world, for breakfast. We arrived at a little diner with booth service in Massachusetts and sat down to order. I wanted waffles. They didn’t have waffles. I was talked into ordering pancakes, but I really wanted waffles. The adorable waiter came back to the table with our food and he was very pleased with himself, as he should have been. So. Very. Much.
He had put my pancake batter into a grilled cheese press, or some sort of press (did they have panini presses then?), and had made me makeshift waffles! It’s the little things when you’re four and newly grieving and in the middle of nowhere (somewhere) and you really want waffles.
We always talked about that memory, but never about where it took place. I guess it didn’t matter because that part of Massachusetts was largely unfamiliar to me until I was 28, when we arrived from San Francisco so that we could raise a family in the Northeast. My previous western Mass experiences were scattered and had to do with visits to Cassidy’s mom. It was when we settled down in Northampton that my mom told me that the famous waffle story of 1984 had taken place there at the Miss Florence diner. We eventually bought a house right in Florence.
We finally went back after all that time when I was pregnant with Scarlet. I led us all to what I believed was the same booth from 1984, and my mom with her adult memory of the event, smiled in agreement. We did not have the same waiter and I did not order waffles but I was pleased to see they were on the menu this time. Wouldn’t it be cool if it was because of me?
I didn’t get back there for about three more years. Cassidy and I took Scarlet with us to our early morning pregnancy anatomy scan in which we found out, most importantly, that Des looked healthy and, less importantly, that he was a boy. We celebrated at the Miss Florence Diner.
“I’m so happy!” I shouted as it occurred to me that I had been waiting for a son my whole life, and hadn’t realized it until then. I couldn’t stop smiling, and calling or texting our loved ones.
We went again, right after Desmond’s birth. The doctors were worried Des was breathing too fast and might have an infection. We were feeling hopeful though, after a good night and lots of nursing. On our way out to breakfast and to our first non-hospital meal in days, we were stopped by a doctor who told us they had found something strange in the baby’s bloodwork. (was later found out to be a lab error – the buffoons!) We went out to breakfast anyway, at the Miss Florence Diner, and took comfort in what came to be our favorite booth. I couldn’t get much food down, and we had to constantly touch hands and hold each other in the parking lot. I tried to find comfort in the jukebox music. All was well with him, of course, several days later.
Now we actually live in the Florence part of Northampton, only a few minutes from the Miss Florence diner. Despite the incredibly low weekday breakfast prices, and the charm, we don’t go a lot. I’ve come to realize it is my place to go to either celebrate deep joys or to find comfort.
I’m linking up with Finish The Sentence Friday (FTSF) for another challenging prompt. This week’s topic is “Road Tripping..” And there’s time to write yours. Link up HERE.