I’m drawn to this place. Called – once or twice – by some local writers writing in some publication that I read somewhere, sometime “the living room” of this eclectic neighborhood that I call home, it seems a bit cliché. This place, Kaldi’s, is a bit too unique to just be a living room. It sits here on the main street, Main Street. Good name.
I almost always sit in the same spot when I come by myself, like tonight. The third table back after the last booth, right underneath the wireless Internet router where the World Wide Web comes in loud and very clear. I once received a call here on my cell phone from a friend in Hong Kong. Apparently I do my international stuff here. It seems fitting.
Here at Table 3 I can see the whole south side of the place, including the pretty bar. I like to look at the people sitting there. When I walked in tonight I opened the door and nearly all the bar’s patrons sitting at the bar turned and looked at me and no one said anything. Okay, I thought. I’ll go sit at the third table back from the last booth.
Hi, Liz. I like her. Did I just say hi to her without saying anything? I wonder what she thought just then. I think she’s cool and I don’t even know her that well.
My living room at my house three blocks away consists of a wood floor and a mix-matched antique couch coupled with the classic-yet-modern couch given to me recently by my mother. There’s an antique-ish coffee table and on top of it a lamp I bought at Cost Plus when I lived in Sacramento. Janell helped pick it out. There used to be a big, pretty oriental-looking rug. The cat peed it into storage until I can get it cleaned.
That couch was in my parents’ house for a few years, recently replaced by a double-recliner chair/couch that I find not-as-comfortable. Before then it was the couch my mother used in her psycho-therapy practice. It’ll fit in fine here in my house. In Over-the-Rhine.
Turns out Main Street (Cincinnati) USA, is struggling. I do not understand it. It bothers me a lot. On my way in one of my neighbors asked for 42 cents. A paltry, specific amount – one I politely declined to give. It’s a policy of mine. He then told me it was for a Tampon.
For the woman standing in the shadowy door way of the building we were standing next to along Main Street, he said. Oh. Still no. I have a policy, one I have been told was for the betterment of everyone living here. They gave me good reasons. Then I re-met Jimmy Heath.
Heath, the former homeless-person-turned-homeless-advocate, was a guest this past December on the radio show I hosted. He is another neighbor of mine. Found out we live just two blocks away from each other. We have never run into each other on the street (though I saw him walk by on the sidewalk a few days ago when I was in Kaldi’s).
He told me to give if I wanted to give; don’t give if I didn’t want to or couldn’t. But, more importantly, do not give just because giving is a bad thing. It is giving, was his point. To drive his point home, I think, he told me this just weeks before Christmas. I’m sure that was his intention (to be fair, I invited him on the radio show then).
Yeah. Gifts are given as a way to, uh, give, he said. I felt like an idiot. What a simple reason to buy a guy’s gal some feminine hygiene. No expectation of anything in return. (No bad jokes right then when I wrote that. Though the thought, I have to admit, did pop in my head.) Give if I want to. Give even if the money might be used for something less productive than maybe I would use it for – or not for the reason cited. Don’t give if not in the giving spirit. But if giving, give with the idea of nothing returned. It feels better already.