At the bottom of the bell tower you poured yourself a coffee, put a contribution into the jar, and through the big doors entered the space, a two story high ceiling of 100 year old wood, brick walls with stained glass windows, a few stuffed chairs by the Brobdingnagian fireplace, tables and chairs spread out in the space, a lending library bookshelf, a kids’ play area, and the floor to ceiling folding sliding doors hiding the dark cool nave of empty pews. I would sit in a stuffed chair or at a table and read papers or doodle in my notebook, sitting on the big couch in the far corner. Young moms with children came and went, small group meetings held at the larger tables, couples hooked up for a coffee & snack talk. It was mostly volunteer, then went commercial, then closed as the virus swept through so many spaces, closing doors and attitudes.
Anyway, Tabor Space has now reopened, a second location for Favela Brazilian Cafe, and we visited yesterday, chatted with the Brazilian baristas, and we sat with a coffee and we looked around and I took a few pics, and we’re glad the space has reopened:
Xavier Roman Catholic Church was within walking distance from Hotel Julian. Hearing they hosted bingo every Monday night, I walked over to play a few cards. About 20 players sat at tables in the church hall, Father Juan calling the numbers from a podium on a stage. I bought half a dozen cards at 50 cents each at a table set up at the entrance, took a paper cup of coffee, and found a seat at a table where sat a couple of ancient nuns wearing simple blue scarves, rosary necklaces, short black smocks, and Jack Purcell canvas shoes, white with the navy blue stripe on the toes. The night was hot out but the hall was cooled by three electric fans dropping from the ceiling. At one table was a family of seven: father, mother, grandmother, and four children aged about 6 to 12, three girls and a boy. They were all attentively playing multiple cards but occasionally one of the kids pointed to another’s card where a call otherwise might have been missed. A new game began, and I paid attention to my own card, intending to play but one card per game, in no hurry. I would drop my winnings, if any, into the donation box on my way out. The room was quiet, Father Juan calling the numbers in a sonorous, serious voice. The night passed on peacefully. If one of the kids shouted Bingo! a polite applause ensued, and the nuns smiled their approval. I sipped my coffee, unused to late evening caffeine, and after a couple of cups began to feel more alert to the musty smell of the hall, the noises – shuffling of cards, shoes, chairs scraping as someone got up for a trip to the refreshment table or restroom – and in the quiet between calls I could hear the soft whir of the big fans slowly turning above.
“Bingo at Xavier” is episode 34 of Inventories a Novel in Progress in Serial Format at The Coming of the Toads. (Click link for continuous, one page view of all episodes.)
Note: With episode 30, the title of the novel was changed from the original working title of “Ball Lightning” to Inventories.