this was a gem of a surprise, my friends. i had to pull out my gps system again to find where tod’s tasties was located, as i had no idea. but, come to find out, it was just a stone’s throw away from downtown. truly. within walking distance. for real. and, let me just go ahead and tell you, if i am parked in downtown and want an open, airy, outdoorsy oasis, i will take my little feet and do the little bit of walking a few blocks north of the center of the city to enjoy a cup of coffee at tod’s tasties. most definitely.
after doing an amazing job of parallel parking, (really. i rocked it out), i had to just stand there and soak in all i was seeing. i immediately thought of a 50s diner. the building was fairly little with red highlights, especially that big, bright tent. but really all i could do was focus on all of the outdoor seating. wooden tables & metal chairs. i quickly realized that this was not really a coffee shop, but a cafe with food, as it smelled heavenly. like burgers and breakfast. and coffee. i smelled coffee too.
there were a couple of men sitting outside, both of them sitting alone. i walked right past them and into the little cafe. it was clear that the main focus of this place was the outdoor space. but, the crazy thing was, was that they even had a sign that said that they prefer you to sit outside and take advantage of all the natural surroundings. and they meant it. there were no tables or chairs inside. at all. oh, ok. there was a counter by the front window and about 3 stools, so i suppose you could sit there. and a little tiny room i discovered in the back when i was leaving. but i actually had no problem heading outside, though, because it was an amazingly sunny day.
i ordered my cup of coffee (i simply must go back and eat there too!), paid my two dollars, and headed outside to stake my claim on the table with the best view. i chose one on the corner of the cafe, realizing that the outdoor seating went around the side of the cafe too. and there were plants, and flowers, and trees, and bushes. it was beautiful. i sat down. pulled out my book and journal, and joined my fellow morning coffee drinkers. the guy beside me was reading the paper. another guy just ate his meal, breakfast foods, i think.
pretty soon, time had flown by, and people started coming in off the street in droves… walking from their homes, downtown, or places where they parked their cars. it was an easily accessible cafe, but if you don’t get one of the three parking spots on the street just outside, you’ve gotta be creative. then again, asheville is quite the walking downtown area, so i believe that most people came on foot. they came in one by one or two by two and began filling up the spaces around me. many sat by themselves, working on their computer or reading a book. others came to talk with each other – business & pleasure.
i had such a good vibe at this place. i was sitting outside. taking it easy. reading. writing. snapping photos. and just enjoying my time to myself. i never talked to anyone, but that still felt right & ok to me. it was time well spent. alone. and yet, i felt as if i was in a little community the whole time. there were nature-lovers, eccentric individuals, hippies, college students of the granola kind (tree-huggers), women, men, couples (same sex & hetero), moms & daughters, friends, and loners. somehow i felt very connected to my fellow cafe-goers, even if i spoke to no one.
and that got me thinking about community… the need that we have, as humans, to connect to one another. the desire we all have to be heard and seen and loved. the dream we all have, whether we think about it or not, to be whole. to feel complete. and i realized, that since i am doing all these cafe visits alone, and enjoying them so far, i must be at a place in my life where i am ok with myself. that realization is empowering. and freeing. to know that i am free to be me. and that i can stand alone and be independent and proud of myself, even though i am no where near being perfect.
at the same time, as i was enjoying my time to myself and thinking about community and individuality, i found myself longing to be with my love, longing to share this space and this moment with her. it’s a funny balance. we can be strong, independent people and still yearn for companionship. we are created to be in relationship with one another, to celebrate one another, to love another – whether that is within our family lives, with friends or co-workers, or at an outdoor cafe with total strangers. though i spoke to no one, i knew that i was in the midst of a community of people living in that moment, in that place, at that time.
perhaps i’ll treat my love to brunch here this weekend, if the weather is nice. saturdays are perfect for that, you know. and it’s a no school work day! (my wife is studying new media at unca). yeah. i think tod’s tasties will definitely be on my list of “places to return to”. maybe i’ll see you there?