the sky is wicked huge.
a beat. It was smaller than my diner, it was shaped oddly like a diner, and you could tell the establishment catered only to the most distinguished riff raff in Boston. It resembled a typical movie diner with it’s rectangular but rounded shape and corner location. I had to stop myself from running to the door. Instead, I approached this heavenly vessel with caution, enjoying every moment leading up to me opening the door. And that’s when I ran into a problem, I couldn’t open the door and it looked dark inside. “A diner… CLOSED?!?!?” I thought to myself, unheard of. The sign clearly said it was a 24hr spiritual palace, and so I tried the door again, and again, but still got nothing! I was crushed, my heart was broken, and my spirit left my body. The worst thought ever crossed my mind, “what if the diner is closed for good?” The thought made me die a little inside. I could not live in a city where such a divine place could be allowed to close. My only reminder of home, closed. There was nothing I could do but walk away, head hung low, dragging my feet. And then like a crack of lightening, a flash of energy and ambition hit me. I was going to open that door or die trying! I approached the door and with all of
the strength I had, pulled…the door almost right of the hinges! There stood a large black man, with an apron on, looking at me rather puzzled “you must be really hungry,” he said. As we shared a laugh, I felt the color come back to my face, and my heart resume its natural rhythm. “Sit anywhere,” the great shepherd said. And so we did. As I sat there I began to take in my surrounding. The booths of this diner were ratty and falling apart, it was very small, and had an open kitchen and grill so you could actually see your food being cooked. You could see the chef standing by the grill sweating profusely and all I could help but think was, “well at least he’s wearing a hairnet.” I was in diner heaven! It was such a seedy and sketchy place that could only be rivaled by the types you see on the list of the “100 Worst Places For You To Eat In America.” And I loved every square inch of it. It was not like my diner at home. It only had a two page menu, and a small insert, it was over priced, and smelled odd (a mixture of char, grease, body odor, and Febreze). But at that point, the idea of a $15 cheeseburger meal was a steal. As the jukebox played a happy tune, I ordered and sat back in a dazed, heightened state as I
let the experience wash over me. I knew then and there that I would be returning to this Godlike establishment many, many times throughout my college life. To me, South Street Diner is a little slice of home. It reminds me of the times when my friends and I feel adventurous and decide to try a “different” diner, rather than the one we always go to. Either way, it’s still nice to have a diner so close. So what if I don’t go there for long intellectual conversation, or if I have yet to try their coffee, the fact that it exists and that I can go there is enough for me. Sitting in that diner brings to me a wash of memories that make me feel good. Memories that when I am in doubt or feeling blue, reminds me what I’m fighting for and why I am here. Its great to know that in times of need, home is only a trek “through the cultural and crime ridden Mecca known as China Town, over a highway entrance, and through a maze of random hidden streets,”…or (as I learned during my second attempt to that wonderful place) just a straight walk down Stuart Street, but honestly, where’s the fun in that? text · Jayson James
Magazine project for Emerson College's WR121 Writing for Civic Engagement class, Spring '10.