Before I moved in with Tina, I lived in a studio apartment at Clark and Diversey here in Chicago.
It was a great apartment in a great location. There was a grocery store across the street. I was walking distance to good nightlife, great stores (Best Buy, Marshalls, record shops), and the lake front.
My neighborhood was populated by lots of young people and very few families. It was a mecca for beggars, transients and organizations like Green Peace hoping to stop you and convince you to give money to their operation.
The people watching in that neighborhood is among the best. One second, a crazy women picking up cigarette butts and lighting them would walk by. The next, a group of young, hot women. I was close to a home for blind people, so there was often a person tapping his cane down the sidewalk, crossing the street with tentative ease.
The local Panera Bread attracted lots of students and elderly folks who sat all day drinking coffee and making hilarious observations about life, complaining about all that ailed them, and politics.
There was a McDonald’s close by, too. One morning I walked over for an Egg McMuffin. There were always a mix of older people in there as well. I worked from home so most of them were retired.
As I waited for my order, this man ordered a coffee. He turned to me and he said, “I need a cup of coffee. Coffee is my cocaine. I can’t get going without it.”
“Is that so?” I asked.
“Coffee is my cocaine.” He repeated.
He paused, then said, “Don’t get me wrong. I don’t do actual cocaine. I just do coffee … it’s my cocaine.”
I miss that old ‘hood.