On our way to Costco today we passed what used to be the Coleman Still. I was instantly transported back 30 years to what now seems like a completely different world.
I was maybe 41 and worked at a semiconductor company with the man I later married. A few times a week we’d grab his friend Alan, and another Carol we worked with, and the four of us would grab lunch at this funky place near the San Jose Airport.
I can still see the place–its wooden tables, the big salad bar. Al enjoyed a drink or 20 and so he’d have a beer or three, and the four of us would talk and talk and talk. At the time, we all smoked so there was that.
Al died of prostate cancer too young some years later…he was a tragic figure, really, with grown children he was estranged from and then he married a Chinese girl my father said was a prostitute and she could’ve been. It’s a mystery how my father would know this, since he’d only met her once, but it seemed a reasonable conclusion when I thought about it. But who knows?
He and his wife had a son. Other than the state they live in, I have no idea what’s happened to them since Al died.
I don’t even remember the other Carol’s last name, but I can still see her, and just where she sat at our company. My ex went his way, too. We tried to remain friends after our divorce, but it was pretty obvious his new wife didn’t like that one bit. No idea why–I wasn’t interested in her man. If I had been, we’d still be together.
The Coleman Still became a taqueria and at some point that went bust, too. It’s abandoned now, with a chain link fence around the deserted property.
For a moment, as I passed by, I could still see it the way it was back in the 1990s, and the four of us: me so young and so into my career and all of us alive in that moment, with no idea what lay ahead.