Monday, March 23, 2009

The First Bright Day of Spring

Yesterday was cold, gray, wind, and rain. Probably the last such day we'll see until next winter. Today was just the opposite- as perfect a clear bright day as ever was made. So I walked down to the corner while the morning was still cool. Old John was there, finishing up a burrito that Eddie had bought him a day or so before. I got a coffee, and sat down. John had been over to Trader Joe's the other day, but he lost his five bucks, and so he had to put back the stuff that he was going to buy. This morning he took twenty out of the bank, and was going to head back over to Trader Joe's as soon as the next bus came by. We had the sun on the table for the better part of an hour, but soon enough the edge of the patio shaded over and it got just cool enough to make me want to move. While we sat the bus came and went, so I walked back home and got the car.

The parking lot at Trader Joe's is way too small; every spot was taken, and people were stalking the rows like hunters waiting for a shot at a space. We gave it up and drove to uptown Whittier instead. Didi was up there working at Mimo's cafe, taking orders at the counter, and serving plates out on the patio. Mimo's in Whittier is a hangout like Starbuck's in La Habra. Didi, and her husband were two of the gang I used to BS with back in the early nineties. She keeps her hair dyed purple, even though you could make the argument that she's a little too old to keep doing it. No matter. She has that extroverted personality that lets her pull it off. I introduced her to John, but she already knew John. He comes up there to check the library used book sales. For an 85 year old guy without a car, John gets around. We got a cup, sat there for a while, and headed back over to Trader Joe's.

When we got in the car, John asked why I didn't try to put my artwork on the Google Network, and try to make some money. I explained that I really wasn't making any more art work. What I have is it. There probably won't be any more. I just lost the inspiration to do it. He understood. John said he hasn't been over to his storage spaces in quite a while. He has a pipe organ disassembled in one, and he's been gathering records, and sheet music for such time when he can afford to buy some land out in the desert to set up his studio again. He sets aside a little each month from his SSI check. Once he has enough he's going to buy some land out there, and let someone put a business on half of it, so he can set up his place in the back, and the business will pay him enough... But he's been getting a little discouraged.

Creative energy is a gift from God, he said. Because God Creates, and we are made in God's image. He is The Creator, and we are little creators. But once you lose that energy you're lost. Lost.

We got a parking place at Trader Joe's this time. They give you free samples of coffee over at TJ's, but they give it in little three or four ounce cups. John figures if you're getting it free you might as well get your money's worth, so he brought along his own paper cup. The staff there knows John, and lets him get away with it. I noticed that they gave him a pretty hefty free sample of the salad of the day as well. He picked out a couple or three cans of beer- enough to last him until later in the week. I threw it in with my order. We got out of there, and drove back to the corner.


julie said...

Ah, the wonderful difference between giving of your own volition and giving at gunpoint. Generosity freely offered benefits the givers as much as the recipients, inasmuch as you obviously benefit from old John's company, and just as obviously you aren't the only one. I'm glad, if unsurprised, to hear how much he gets around.

mushroom said...

John's right, we are little creators. We are God's eyes, ears, voice, and hands around here, too. Sounds like you are doing that well.

And I like your picture.

Ricky Raccoon said...

Old John has beautiful dreams.
Thanks again, John.

Robin Starfish said...

Yeah, a day in the life. Ya just can't make that stuff up.

QP said...

I have a friend, 70 something, who's a beachcomber; been doing it for years. She combs the beachfront hotels in Port Aransas for the free appetizers they set out during happy hour to entice the drink buyers.