wabi sabi

I like to keep my free time free. Sometimes I end up just sitting around, others I am free for unexpected experiences. Daughter #2 today wanted a ride to her Model UN session. Dropping her off in front of the Herbst Theater I was able to see hundreds of MUNners make their way in the San Francisco rain, they were all dressed in their best approximations of grown-up attire. Although I am not sure the United Nations sees very many hemlines as far above the knee as what these delegations were rocking. Maybe the girls were just putting the “Model” in “Model U.N.” Otherwise it looked like a congregation of Mormon youth without the Bibles.

After watching Allie disappear into the throng I made my way to a favorite coffee shop, the Moulin. Squat on Geary at Larkin, it is home to a clientele that is equal parts hotel guests from the motor lodge next door and Tenderloin denizens who’ve been coming for years. Run by an old Korean couple, it’s a time capsule seemingly immune from change. Dim lights conspire to hide the shabby age of the walls and flooring, creating a sense of gentle wear that the Japanese sometime call wabi-sabi. This term, also defined as “finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in nature, of accepting the natural cycle of growth, decay, and death.” is something that’s always intrigued me. I love the dark, warm feel of the brown-shingle cottage or the driftwood furnishings of an old beach house. In the Moulin I always feel relaxed and nourished beyond the contribution of the simple fare of eggs and ham over rice.

What gives me peace and restoration is the continual flow of visitors hunched over their maps and Muni guides and the eccentric, down at the heels locals who greet the owners by name. Today an elderly gentleman in a tweed jacket, bow tie and argyle socks pulled up to his knees sat with an old friend in the window. He leaned in and said ”

“Those two guys came in for massages because they wanted to rob you.” “Well they were on drugs.”

It’s a simple reminder of what our city is, simultaneously a thoroughfare for those wanting to take in the beauty and culture of the area, mixed with the reality that it’s relentlessly expensive and unforgiving of those who aren’t rolling in money. But the regulars seem to always pull together seven dollars for an egg breakfast or a cheeseburger, and if you have that, you’re welcome at the Moulin.


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