Enough recuperation drama. I actually do plenty of stuff I enjoy, despite the pain, the brace, and the relative isolation.

For example, my two oldest friends from high school, heck, junior high school, live about 30 minutes from my house. Last Sunday, John K and I had lunch to celebrate his 64th birthday. We went to Kuba Kuba, a local restaurant operated by a Cuban ex-pat, whose family emigrated in the 60’s. It is located in a former drug store, down Lombardy Street from Stuart Circle on Monument Ave, famous for a rather dramatic equestrian statue of Confederate cavalry general James Ewell Brown Stuart, aka “Jeb”. The restaurant is cozy, (read cramped and noisy), but it has its own unique Richmond bohemian charm.  Showing up in my back brace, carrying a cane, we were offered a booth, normally reserved for groups of four.  Apparent disability does carry some privilege and I shamelessly exploit it.

Sitting amidst the funky charm, we view the murals. They feature First Holy Communion portraits and other nostalgic memories from pre-Revolutionary Cuba.  The menu is filled with all kinds of Cubano favorites, from black bean soup to tres leches cake. John ordered the black bean soup, the Cuban sandwich, and a cup of Cuban coffee. I went for ropa vieja, (roughly translated,  old clothes) a flavorful dish with peppers, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and flank steak, slow cooked so that the beef is nicely shredded and served over rice.  Although the noise made conversation difficult, we talked about one of our mutual passions, Afro-Cubano music as performed by the Buena Vista Social Club, Compay Segundo, Ibrahim Ferrer, and Omara Portuondo.  Richmond has certain locales that flirt with the exotic and a world made smaller by jet travel, TV and the internet, can transform the remote into the immediate.  We joke about playing dominoes outside in the summer, wearing our guayabera shirts, smoking cigars, as comely and buxom Latinas watch us play. Not a bad little day dream.

When our fantasy foray to Cuba ended, I dropped John off at his apartment and headed back to reality. I picked up some pain medicine at Target and drove home. Home to football playoffs, back pain, naps, coffee, and my daily walk.

My next walk was the following day, Monday.  I put on my shorts, shoes, unlined anorak and back brace, and began the circuits of my home street, 5 circuits with a 2 circuit cool-down. The walk feels good. I live in a neighborhood called Knollingwood and it is on a knoll or hill. (Think Grassy Knoll of JFK assassination fame). So there is a downhill and uphill portion to the walk.  I’m getting stronger, have more endurance and discover that the arthritis in my  left hip hurts almost as badly as the post-operative back pain at the incision site. But what the Hell, I’ll be 65 next week. If one is this old and doesn’t hurt somewhere, that person is probably dead already.