19 September 2013
September 19, 2013
It all started with a cup of coffee and a breakfast sandwich. But that got me to thinking. I started thinking about habits and the choices we make. And the ones we don't.
We have been in San Diego (or should I say, Point Loma, to be exact) for over a week now. Shortly after we arrived, our friends, Cindy and Bruce, drove our car down for us. Since then we have been scouting the area, checking out the stores and finding what's around.
We found the marine stores, of course, and the Home Depot and Ace Hardware. (Wow! The Ace Hardware employees down here are great. They are friendly and super helpful. Service must be back in style.) We also found the Ralphs, Starbucks, and the Trader Joes.
So when we took off yesterday morning for a cup of coffee and a bite to eat, I naturally assumed we were headed for Starbucks. But then Jay proposed the question.
"Would you like to go to Starbucks or try that little cafe down the street - the one we went to last year with Bobbi and Don?"
"The little cafe!" I said. (I was feeling adventurous.)
Off we went to The Living Room, a coffee house and eatery just off the quiet end of Rosecrans Street. I am thinking this part of the street used to be a neighborhood with homes, not shops and restaurants like it is now, because The Living Room looked like someone's house turned into a cafe. (Hence the name, The Living Room, I suppose.) It was the lone hold-out on a street filled with strip-mall like buildings. It was a unique building in that it had charm.
This historic landmark (as it turns out) had an outside porch along the sidewalk where one could sit and sip coffee and people watch. Then a few steps up a flight of stairs and you arrived on the first floor in a room with a serving counter, the kitchen and a few tables. If you moseyed on to the back area, I think this is what must have been the living room and it was filled with more tables and chairs, more like a dining room now. Jay said there was a second floor, as well, but I didn't notice. A good enough reason to go back and explore further.
The Living Room had atmosphere and style. It had a quaint cottage-like feel, making us feel more like we were somebody's guest in their home rather than a number in a cold, corporate building. Which got me to thinking...Why did we search out all those chain stores and restaurants?
I claimed we were cruising to new ports to find out about the people and culture. I frequently complain about the strip malls all over America. I call them Anywhere USA. Every shopping center has a Bed Bath and Beyond, a Home Depot, a Target, A Ross, etc. You get the picture. And honestly, you could be anywhere in the United States when you step into one of these stores. (One of the reasons I love Martha's Vineyard so much is we don't have the Anywhere USA strip malls.) So why then, when we came to our first port with the use of a car, did I search out exactly what I claimed I was trying to escape from?!
Was I programmed? Was it the comfort of familiarity that drew me there? Whatever it was, I saw myself as a mindless robot going places and doing things without much thought. I just went. Are there outside influences that keep leading me to these places? Was it advertising? Group consciousness? Or had I simply forgotten how to think for myself?
It's scary when you think about it. Similar to the Hollywood Syndrome. Everyone knows that Hollywood knows what makes a "perfect" woman. Just ask any teenager. The perfect woman has straight, pearly white teeth and full lips. Her skin is shiny, lifted and tight with no blemishes. She has a small nose, big boobs, her waist is tiny and her body is skinny. This is the new mantra and our plastic surgeons are getting rich nipping and tucking and molding everyone to look the same. Boring! And yes, frightening, because wasn't that part of Hitler's plan, to tell the world what the "perfect" race was?
But I digress.
So there we were standing at the counter looking over the menu, getting ready to place our order. Secretly I was excited at the prospect of not only being in a new place, but maybe their menu would offer something new, as well. I was reading through it when the cashier mentioned that there were two specials; one was a burrito, the other a breakfast sandwich. Only this sandwich had egg, ham, Swiss cheese, and pesto on a croissant. Now here was something new. A slightly different take on the traditional. But pesto? In the morning? Really?
I looked back at the menu looking for something else that was original, but slightly less exotic. My eyes kept darting back to the same old, same old, breakfast sandwich. The only choice was which kind of meat you wanted and it was served on a bagel. Boring. But I was tempted. What is it with such habits?
Suddenly, I realized Jay had finished ordering and all eyes were on me. It was time to make a decision and I felt the pressure.
"Um...Uh...I'll take the breakfast special, the croissant!" I said quickly before I changed my mind. There. I did it! I broke the mold and went with something new and different.
And I was glad I did because it was delicious. But I must confess. When it came time to order coffee, I went with my old standby, a mocha.
Some habits are just not worth breaking.