Waitress’ Garden of Dreams

Craig and I met at a coffee shop down at the beach six years ago. I can remember…

I rode my bike down Ocean Drive, set it against the brick wall next to the Pacific Tea and Coffee Shop, and entered. Craig sat alone with this Kangol hat perched on his head. He was holding a coffee cup. I sat next to him and we chatted amicably. I felt so comfortable sitting with him, that I wasn’t self consciousness about wearing my bike helmet, or explaining that my hair was a greasy mess. We decided to meet for dinner the following evening. I liked Craig. He was a musician and an artist. We brainstormed ideas for his music and my writing. Together we wrote the follow piece:

 

Waitress’ Garden of Dreams

Rosemary’s Cafe
is closed for the day
the girl flips the sign on the door.

She cleans up the place
auburn hair in her face
an’ runs an old mop ‘cross the floor.

She’s plain, but she shines
singing at times
an old Celtic tune from her mother.

While Bart, the town bum,
layers of rag, smell of rum,
puffs an old butt that come from some other.

Then his eyes well with tears
When clearly he hears
’bout a garden o’ dreams faraway .

She’s enchanting at times
calls them home with her rhymes
that girl at Rosemary’s Cafe.

 

We loved to sit at coffee shops and brainstorm ideas. The inspiring waitress was a woman who served at a local bistro. This was her day job. However, her passion was acting and she took the leading role in a musical production running that summer. Such a plain looking woman she was, but Craig and I both stopped our chatting when we heard her sing as she worked.

Both Craig and I are fire signs and very creative. He gave me a few of his CD’s, studio productions. I am especially fond of the third one he made, which shows him on the cover wearing the same Kongol hat he wore when I met him. Wearing a leather jacket and holding a guitar, he’s walking down an alley in Memphis.  Track five bared his soul and I played it over and over whenever I felt moody. I think I fell in love with his talent, the way he made the guitar sound, and I encouraged him to spend more time with his music. I felt this was a stronger gift than his painting.

“I have to spend more time with my art, Adrienne,” was his constant complaint.

He was new to our tourist town and needed to establish an income. He was an engineer working for Toyota back east. The west coast is where artists tend to migrate, but he was not a young man anymore and could not live as a ‘starving artist.’

We sat on a wooden bench at the top of the stairs leading from the beach to the bluff. The fragrance of wild roses filled the air and a full moon shimmered on the water. He suddenly stood and asked if he could show me something. He pulled off his t-shirt and traced the six inch scar on the left side of his chest.

“This is where they cut me to do the heart valve surgery. I nearly died,” he explained. “After surgery my wife came to see me and told me she’s moving out. She bailed—I don’t blame her,” he said, seeing my expression change to alarm. “I looked pretty bad and there wasn’t a lot of hope that I was gonna come out of this okay. But, I did. I decided to move to the coast where my son and daughter lived. So here I am.”

He took my hand and placed it over his heart. I could feel a strong beat.

We maintained a friendship when our relationship didn’t last. He went on to meet a woman five years older than himself. She was an RN with a condo and money to travel. He’d meet with me occasionally, and we’d talk of the perils and frustrations in relationships. Some of the stories he told me were troubling. He recounted that she would order him to remain in the car while she checked out the movies in the video store. How odd.

“Why would she do that, Craig?”

“Because the girl who worked there was pretty and she didn’t want me looking at her.”

“Did she crack a window for you, too?”

But, of course no relationship is perfect, and he worked with what he had. While they pursued theirs, he got a job working at a gas station, greeting patrons and serving fresh coffee, keeping the washrooms clean and performing general duties. It pained me to see him doing such a menial job when his talent was such a gift. I’d often stop in just to say “Hi” and see how he was doing. He loved hearing all about my internet escapades and made up nicknames for every one of my cyber-dates. I could always count on him for a laugh or an understanding ear.  I also listened to his progress with his new woman.

One afternoon I stopped but couldn’t see him anywhere. The attendant nodded his head towards the washroom in the back. I walked over and could hear banging noises and whistling, which I recognized as one of Craig’s compositions. He opened the door to see me standing there, leaning against the wall, waiting for him. He lost the smile that was on his face. He moved the mop in a futile attempt to hide it. I smiled at him and couldn’t resist.

“Garden of dreams,” I commented.

The years passed and we kept up our friendship in bits and pieces. When I needed his advice and no one else would do, he’d have me pick him up on a street corner and we’d drive to our little hole-in-the-wall bistro, where his girlfriend would never venture.

The last time I saw him was only a few months ago, at his workplace. He was making a pot of coffee when I surprised him from behind.

“How are you, Craig?”

“I’m good… good.”

I poured a coffee and smiled at him.

“How’s the relationship going?” I asked.

“I’m moving in at the end of the month.”

“Really? How do you feel about that?”

Pause.

“Elated. I am elated.”

I looked closely at him and could see that he really was. I’ve never seen him so… happy.

“Another one bites the dust,” I called out to him just before leaving.

He just smiled.

I visited the station the other day, hoping to catch a glimpse of him, but I was told that he no longer worked there. I’m happy about that. I just hope he replaced that mop with his guitar.

 

Waitress’ Garden of Dreams © 2011 Adrienne S Moody. Click Adrienne’s tag for more of her stories.


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