What makes this place feel like home?

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“Wait for me in front of the shop,” says the Significant Other before pulling out into the busy street, the smirk on his face a telltale sign that says he knows I won’t comply.

Looking around, I take in the beautiful French windows that seem to be a staple of every facade in the colorful street.

A strange neighborhood.
Strange, as in, I’ve never been here before.

The excitement of exploring every nook and cranny overwhelms me.
My senses are alert.

I can hear people doing their chores.
I can see women walking their dogs.
I can taste fall in the air–a mixture of chestnuts and hickory.
I can touch the crackling leaves that fall from the trees.
And I can smell the aroma that wafts from the little bakery called Kismet.

I feel someone grab me by the elbow. “I thought I told you to wait by the shop.”
“When do I ever do anything you ask?” I reply.
Looking up at the bakery sign, I wordlessly utter my desire to go in and have coffee.

As I sit and sip my wonderful latte, I think of the little bakery where my mom and I spent so much time this summer.

Rey’s Cafe.
A charming space filled with rattan furniture, bright light, and a wonderful array of pastries.

I close my eyes and instantly see it.

Colorful beads hang in the windows, clacking and changing color every time someone opens the door. Wine and liquor bottles fill the shelves. Jars of spices and marmalade sit side by side in an orderly fashion.

This is a place where people gather to have long conversations.
Where people sit and read a newspaper, a cup of coffee their only companion.
Where women share recipes and discuss the latest hat trend.
And where my mother and I sit for hours talking about anything and everything.

Coffee after coffee, time passes, yet we refuse to be clock watchers.
Instead, we sit huddled together, giggling as we recount funny events we’ve seen.

I smile as I remember how my mother and I labeled Rey’s Cafe “our spot.”
Our spot, which also housed “our table” and “our chairs.”

The Significant Other walks toward the cash register to pay for our coffee. Yet I’m reluctant to go. Sitting in this bakery has filled me with nostalgia of time spent in Rey’s Cafe.

I think that perhaps it was the beauty of having coffee together that made us feel this way.
Or perhaps it was that Rey’s Cafe, with all its magic, felt like home.

Do you have a favorite place that feels like home?

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Where has the time gone?

My son had a birthday this past weekend.

As I sat across from him at the breakfast table, I couldn’t believe that this child of mine was already twenty.

I sat mesmerized as I looked at his handsome face.

Dark, curly hair, beautiful chocolate brown eyes and eyelashes so long, they make women cry.

Where had the time gone?

It seemed like only yesterday we were trading Pokemon cards and now, a leisurely conversation was composed of discussing the theories of Freud and Carl Jung.

As he looked up from his plate, I heard him say, “What’s wrong, Mom?” and I replied, “Oh nothing, just admiring how handsome you are.”

Little did he know that in the time he had been sitting eating his pancakes, a hundred slides had flashed before my eyes.

His first day of kindergarten, the first time he made a basket, the day he learned to ride a bike, the day he learned to write his name, the time he won first prize in the science fair, the day he scored his first touchdown, his first solo flight, the day he graduated, the art contest where his sculpture won third prize.

Like frames in a film, episodes of his life flashed before my eyes.

My heart swelled with pride as I remembered the day he walked into the living room and announced, “I’m a big boy, Mommy. Tonight, I sleep in my bed.” He was two.

Or the night he came into my room and asked, “Mommy, do you want me to check if there are monsters in your closet?” He was four.

Or the time he said, “Mommy, when I grow up I want to be a doctor.” He was six.

The time he announced, “Mom, I changed my mind. I want to be a ninja.” He was eight.

And who could forget the time I picked him up from school and he shouted, “You’re late and the ugly girl in my class has been chasing me so she can kiss me!” He was ten.

I thought of the day he said, “I don’t care if I’m short. I want to try out for the basketball team.” He was 12.

Yes, time has surely flown.

And now this young man was twenty.

Soon he would graduate from the university, find a job, and move out.

The thought of him leaving broke my heart.

I was not ready to deal with the empty nest syndrome.

I was not ready to admit that my services as a mom would no longer be required.

I wasn’t ready for him to have grown up so fast.

And yet he had.

I smiled as I said, “Are you my best boy?”

My smile grew wider as I heard him say, “Mom, I’m your only boy.”

Yes, he had turned twenty, but in my heart, he would always be my baby boy.

The Son's idea of posing for a photograph

The view from my window

Today I’m linking up with Heidi’s Black and White Wednesday.

Black and White Wednesday

How many bodies does it take to stuff a Beetle?

This morning when I was leaving the supermarket, I chanced upon this “vintage” Volkswagen in the parking lot.

(I love how nowadays it appears to be the norm to label anything that wasn’t produced, manufactured, or created in the last ten years as “vintage”.)

Just as I was going to snap a photo of it, the owner came out.

I hurriedly pressed the shutter before she drove away.

When I got to the bus stop five minutes later, I was still grinning from ear to ear.

I giggled to myself as I recalled something nana used to say, “She who laughs to herself, her mischievous acts remembers.”

Oh nana, how right you were because that’s exactly what I was doing.

Gazing at that old Volkswagen brought back memories of a time when I was young, foolish, and a lot more fun than I am now.

The year was 1982.

I remember it was after school on a Friday, and it was sweltering hot.

However, the heat didn’t prevent thirteen crazy adolescents from cramming into Vinnie’s old, white Beetle.

And by perfectly, I mean half bodies hanging out of windows, two people stuffed in the trunk, and legs twisted so badly, you’d think they were broken.

Ah, to be young again; to be so flexible, that turning yourself into a human pretzel was rated “easy peasy.”

I miss those days; days when caution was thrown to the wind; days when consequences were the last thing on our minds; days when everything was possible.

The day we crawled into the Beetle was not an exception. It was the rule.

Because those are the foolhardy things you do when you’re young; those are the things you’re able turn into a story for your grown children and grandchildren when you’re older.

Those are the things that make you sigh and believe you’re invincible; king of the world.

I don’t remember if in the beginning, Vinnie was in agreement that thirteen bodies pile into his precious classic.

However, I do remember that halfway through the process, he stood in front of the car shouting out instructions; instructing this person or that person to go next.

Like a director leading an orchestra, he moved his hands left and right, as if to signal, “You, here. You, stand by. You, bend your shoulder an inch.”

How I wish I’d been as camera crazy then as I am now, for it would have been wonderful to capture such a moment.

Thirteen people behaving like idiots, risking bodily harm, and disobeying society’s rules of proper behavior.

Did we measure the consequences of our actions? Absolutely not.

Did we laugh ourselves silly, prove the human body is able to flex and stretch beyond normal limits, and make a memory that will last us a lifetime? Absolutely!

Vinnie, you handsome devil, wherever you are, thank you and your Beetle for making this possible!

What funny memory do you have of your youth?