The sign stands in the parking lot of Paul’s Diner on Route 46. It’s an old-fashioned sign, the kind that must be set manually, but in our two-and-a-half years living here, I’ve never seen anyone changing it. Yet, it changes twice a day. Mornings, it’s something normal for a diner like “Chocolate-chip banana waffles.” By mid-afternoon, however, it becomes the Twilight Zone of diner signs.
I cannot understand how anyone would look at this sign and think, “Why, yes, I’d like to go to Paul’s Diner and order the Shrimp Primavera.” This is no fancy restaurant. The tables are sticky, the waitresses are classic, and the only safe foods are clearly grilled cheese and pancakes. Nonetheless, every day, they advertise some terrifyingly ambitious dish, usually seafood prepared in a way no one has ever before envisioned it. I mean, really, would you order Sea Bass Fricassee from a diner?
When I pass Paul’s, I make a note of today’s special so I can email my husband. He gets a kick out of getting random emails with no text except for, “Tilapia Florentine.”
I’m going to miss the sign outside of Paul’s Diner. Tonight, we will disconnect all the electrics. Tomorrow, the movers will come to pack up our stuff. While the company where my husband will be working is covering the packing and moving, I’ve spent the last few weeks going through papers, taping closed boxes of Legos, and trying to use up all the food. By Friday afternoon, we’ll just be a memory in this town, the only reminder a “For Sale” sign in the yard in front of our stunning tree.
I’ve found friends here, and a move underlines who they are. When you move, an acquaintance says, “Let’s get together one last time.” A friend says, “Let me take your kid while you pack.” Trust me, there’s a big difference.
This has been the place of my greatest creative fertility, perhaps because I gave my other fertility a rest. The space, the trees, even the bears have nurtured my writing. However, I have no doubt that this move is for the best.
We don’t fit in here, which is fine with J, as he’s practically a hermit. It’s fine with me, because I don’t set much store by fitting in, and I double-dog dare you to find a place where Lilah or Benjamin fit in. It has been very hard on Zachary. Very, very, very hard. I’ll write more on that another time, but for now let me say that this move is in no small part a hope of finding a community that is a better fit for our son.
I won’t be posting for the next week, as the internet goes down tomorrow. The kids have had their last swimming lesson, and they can’t play with the toys that I’ve carefully sorted. I won’t be cooking, because all our stuff is packed up.
Fortunately, we can all head over to Paul’s Diner to get Salmon Tetrazzini.