It was one of those mornings of beginnings of beginning ideas. I don’t need to explain that. This day was chosen. It’s as a good as day as any.
A friend recommended a cafe. I call here after the appointment. It’s in a side street, and opposite an old lodging house with a hand-painted wooden sign against cream brick veneer, the word, Vacancy in faded sky blue paint, and in black, BUDGET ACCOMMODATION, then DBL in the bottom corner in smaller lettering. Nearby is a high-rise, with scaffolding lined in red cloth, going up, and adjacent an elliptical structure. I know because I am an architectural writer in one of my day jobs.
A bird takes a rapid eye view of the arcade mural. The cafe is superb. ‘Play that funky music’ plays, loud enough to enjoy but not more. I am not talking. Not aloud anyway. Is 10.45 too early for lunch? It is the fruit roulade I want. It’s only $4.50. The roulade is made of pavlova, fresh cream, mango and passionfruit that the owner grew. It is the best, the owner says.I don’t need it. But I do. I have longed for roulade since enjoying a fresh French tumble of raspberry, meringue and ice cream at a wedding party between Metz and Nancy. Their son is 21 now so it’s been a long wait. The roulade was served at the after party or maybe the before partyin the barn of the bride’s family. I order a zucchini slice and brown rice salad. If I write for long enough or well enough I decide I’ll have the roulade as a reward.
I’m happy such a café has arrived here and all is made with love. In the time I pass here, I recall coming to this building before.
When I was a child, I was friends with a girl opposite and we spent many summer days, like this, in their swimming pool. It was above ground and the best thing that had ever happened in our street in my young mind. My friend and I dived for things and swam in circles. One day a seed got into my ear and the doctor had to swish it out into a silver bowl.
Then that family left that house, and the pool came down, and for reasons not shared with us children, the family moved to an apartment right above where I am typing this now.
They managed a shop here, a dry cleaner I think. But they were also managing something else, much bigger. My friend’s brother who spent the last months of his life in the apartment. We’d file into his room and chatter a few words to him, feeling very self-conscious but keen to do the right thing if it helped him.
He was beyond speaking by then. He had a tumour. I don’t remember the exact timings or his exact age but I remember him running and wanting to play between treatments — and i thought of him today — the boy who lived upstairs and long ago left us for his journey.
I order roulade.