New music. Moody, maudlin but upbeat. At Cafe Gratitude, where there’s no dairy or gluten. I didn’t used to care about that, although the cashew-milk shakes were all right. Dishes have names like “I Am Grateful For Giving Back.” The thing about The Old Forest is I feel Cafe Gratitude wants to give us access to some mysterious past. Why not? Access to a better future or even to our true selves doesn’t actually mean anything specific. But an imagined past? Where we wander pathways in and out of darkness under the canopy, and in our deeper imagination our feet rarely touch the ground…that’s more exciting than the future of humanity or coming face-to-face with flaws.
My kids come into the cafe with my wife to join me and the dog and the music picks up and suddenly the dog is sitting next to me on a pillow. What was it like to look out from the edge of the forest, feet on the ground, pondering a venture onto the savannah? So many children, so much chaotic sound, such a discussion of the merits and demerits of playing guitar in schools interrupted first by questions from my daughter, then by a squabble over tortillas dipped into plantains, guacamole and coconut flakes. Turns out Mr. San Jose the ukulele teacher was promoted to teach at the high school level. New worlds. The trip to the Old Forest, alone with my dog, leads to something more complex than those secret, winding ways. Now we can fight over everything we can possibly imagine, because of course we’re no longer coming out of the forest, we’ve taken over the savannah and look back with longing.
So that’s the end I mean the beginning. My daughter sits on a pillow next to the dog on the pillow looking off into space while she drinks her cashew shake. It’s a really good shake, as long as you don’t drink the whole glass, and Radiohead’s Karma Police reflects her vacant lost expression. I really don’t think she’s lost. I think she’s traveling the interior paths of her mind. She jumps up and ties a napkin on the dog’s head. The beginning of forever and all you have to do is take a little moment back on the old forest paths and come out again onto the plain. Even though the plain is filled with our own people looking back at the forest when they can remember to do that amidst the hot dust and the shouts and the looks of dismay.