Breakfast at Valois Cafeteria, Hyde Park
I took Friday off of work, as I’ve still been feeling a little off. Ever since my birthday, my brain has been a little distracted. I’ve just not been very present in the moment, as though I’ve been stopped in my tracks.
I’ve felt like I wasn’t actively moving towards (or away) from anything, and that the only motion provided was that of the people around me. I’m just kind of moving along because others are.
Liz suggested taking the day off to try to mull things over, and that sounded like a really good idea. So that’s what I did.
Originally, I was intending to head over to Porkchop – as I had a hunch it might not be that busy, first thing in the morning. It was some place nearby, comfortable, and where I might not feel too bad for lingering.
Despite waiting outside a while (and there being an “Open” sign on the door), I realized they would not open for breakfast until 10:30AM. So I headed back to 53rd, and decided I’d try out Valois.
I’d heard a bit about this place, but never ventured inside. Liz isn’t a fan of greasy spoons, so it seemed like a nice opportunity. I’d heard that Obama sometimes comes here, when he’s back in the neighborhood.
It’s a short-ish cafeteria line, but you’re able to look right into the (crowded) kitchen as you wait for your food. There were 3 or four men doing different tasks, and it was fascinating to watch them navigate around one another. You could tell they were all used to the motions.
I got a lot of food, but was feeling pretty hungry. I finished most everything, save about 1/4 of the pancakes.
This wasn’t really a place to sit down and linger with a cup of coffee. Don’t get me wrong – I felt no pressure to be fast to eat and fast to leave. There was just a bit more hustle and bustle than I was originally looking for. Which wasn’t part of the plan, but that was ok.
Instead of thinking about myself, I kind of just tried to disappear. And observed the room and the people around me, as folks were having their breakfasts.
The room did start to fill up, as I was sitting there. A trio of cops sat down at the table next to me. I saw students as well as elderly retirees (mostly dining by themselves). I saw construction workers having what I presumed to be a very late breakfast. And behind me, I could hear a father having an animated discussion with his younger son about Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.
Along the far wall, there were five clocks noting time around the world: Tokyo, Athens, Chicago, New York, and London. Seeing these clocks didn’t make me anxious. They seemed to extend the notion of the world, beyond my table, beyond the student eating before class, beyond the windows, beyond Hyde Park.
I didn’t think a lot about myself, this morning. I ended thinking and observing the world around me a bit more. And for a little while at least, was more in the present moment than I have been in a while.