Few things can make me feel as deeply peaceful as a good meal in a quiet place. I just got back from a late brunch at the Runcible Spoon, where I've been going for years and years (probably the first time I went there was in 1980 or so). I had their Weekend Special, which consists of: two eggs cooked however you want them (I had mine over medium); two pieces of toast with jam or appple butter; bacon or sausage or home fries or maybe there was one other choice (they were out of home fries, but I always get the bacon because their bacon is, for some reason, always perfect); and two pieces of French toast or one pancake (the pancake I had today was maybe the most humongous pancake I have ever had at the Spoon -- not only was it bigger than Julie Dill's head, it was the size of a large dinner plate and a full half-inch thick) with butter and maple syrup. And lots of good coffee. All for under ten bucks.
(Since some of the keys on my elderly laptop are a bit recalcitrant, I almost told you that my pancake came with male syrup. That would have been a different sort of meal entirely.)
For some reason the Spoon is the perfect place to be on a rainy afternoon. There are plants in the windows and fish in the bathtub, and instead of feeling gloomy it feels cozy. Plus I had one of the better, long-time waitrons, as opposed to the one I had last weekend who dropped my jam (I'd asked for apple butter, but whatever) and never brought me a new one, and had to be prompted for silverware. I wrote in my journal for a while before my food arrived, and then while I ate I started reading an interesting history of Provincetown. (I bought it last summer at Now Voyager bookstore in P-town, but am just now getting around to reading it.)
Although I visited Provincetown once in the summer of... hm, 1982 or 1983, I guess (for a women's martial arts camp), I didn't fall in love with the town until I spent a week there, alone, in June 2001. It was a wonderful, relaxing, energizing week which I credit for helping to bring me back to a place where I could write again after several years of not writing much at all. I know that in many ways it is past its heyday. People like me -- lower-middle-class folks, people who can't spend much money on things like vacations -- can barely afford to spend a week there, and it's no longer the kind of town where a starvingartist* can find refuge in a cottage or a dune shack just being an artist/writer, not without working a couple of jobs to pay the bills or being sponsored in some way. And the Portuguese fishing families that settled the town many decades ago? They can barely afford to live there anymore either, and many of them have given up and left. While it is still a town that welcomes the artist, the odd character, the queer in whatever sense of the word you choose, it's also a town that has gentrified itself almost beyond recognition in some ways. I'll never, unless I win the lottery (and a pretty substantial one at that), be able to afford a house there, not even a little three-room apartment.
And yet that town still reeks of magic for me. Partly it's the ocean and the air and the light -- things no amount of gentrification can eradicate. Partly it's the sense of literary and artistic tradition that pervades the place. Partly it's the joyous queerness of it all -- you gotta love a town where the sight of drag queens on rollerblades gliding down the middle of the main street is an everyday occurrence. It's a place that values independence, and is home to very few chain establishments -- there's a Ben & Jerry's, and a small Subway, and as far as I know that's about it. It's a small town, with big white church steeples and the sense of being reasonably safe walking back to your room at midnight after spending a few hours drinking beers at the Squealing Pig or eating a slice of pizza at Spiritus or window shopping or listening to music or just hanging out watching the nightly parade.
It's a place where, for so many reasons, I feel safe letting my inside be my outside. I get that sometimes in Bloomington, because it's home here, but it's different. And yes, the fact that I don't live in Provincetown -- that I can go there and be whoever I am and then walk away from it -- probably helps. It's like writing a poem every day: wonderful for short periods of time, but I probably couldn't live that way forever. (Although I do often feel that, if not for the money and the having to work for a living part, I would be very happy to live in Provincetown. If I ever win that big-ass lottery, I'll find out. At the very least, I do hope to spend some time there in the winter, before too long -- or at least the fall or spring; well outside of tourist season anyway.)
So that's today: loving my town, eating a good meal in a restaurant I've frequented for twenty-five years or so, watching it rain, dreaming of another town I also love. I think I fall in love with places more than I do with people.
Also: Lotus kitten would like to announce that his Loudest Purr can be heard well into the next county. I guess he likes it here. :)
* In Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh, Harriet's father is always saying "starvingartist" or "starvingwriter." She writes in her notebook, "Are rich people ever going to grow up to be writers or are writers all like Mr. Rocque with no money? My father is always saying starvingartist or starvingwriter. Maybe I better reduce."