“What time did y’all wake up this morning?”
“You guys are psychopaths.”
“Are you aware of what city we live in?”
“How do they do it?”
- Instagram DMs from good friends.
Traditions are important. Upholding and implementing them despite the setting you’re in isn’t easy, but it sure is gratifying.
Cole and I have been frequent flyers of diner breakfast specials since college. The Greek-owned and operated Mt. Hope Diner in Rochester served as our go-to. Two eggs, bacon, home fries, rye toast, and (because that wasn’t enough refined carbs) French toast. $5.45. At this point, the lumberjack breakfast is a symbol of our friendship more than anything else, and we try our best to maintain the same order at any diner we explore in the city. Haven’t settled on a favorite spot in the city yet - but why should we? These are exploratory times.
That price point has changed since moving to the city, and the frequency of these excursions is lower, but the sentiment remains exactly the same. This tradition isn’t just an excuse to overeat on a random Thursday morning (though I love that it is). It’s a chance to catch up on life, and let our bodies catch up to our minds. It’s surprisingly difficult to maintain that connection throughout the workweek when your head is zooming miles ahead of everything else. Sure, Sunday might have been a practice in relaxation and zen, but by Tuesday you’re frantically checking email on the subway and yearning for the weekend to come back round. A feeling that perpetually grows as life’s stressors approach unending, faster and heavier if nothing breaks them up.
Though seemingly inconvenient, rituals and traditions, like waking up irresponsibly early just to meet for breakfast before our respective 9 - 5s in completely different boroughs, help to combat that feeling of drowning. It’s almost rebellious, a reminder of our freedom to experience, granting permission to break the rigid morning routine, and gives us a chance to get introspective, embark on a pre-8am heart-to-heart, or just check up on each other.
It doesn’t need to take place in a diner either. Maybe you sit on your bed and finally get some reading in - specifically that dust-collecting book you purchased months ago. Maybe you get out early, go for a walk, and treat yourself to really expensive cold brew. It’s about creating a setting where you feel present and at ease, where life grows still for an hour, and your thoughts pull into the station the same time your body does.
So we sit, clothes saturated with the scent of everything thrown on the griddle, breathing it all in, appreciating this familiar feeling of ease found, for us, in classic diners, where trends don’t exist, time moves like syrup, egos stand at the door, and the coffee is wonderfully banal.
How do they do it?
Diners from above:
Tina’s Place, 1002 Flushing Ave
Landmark Coffee Shop, 158 Grand St
Joe Jr., 167 3rd Ave
B&H Dairy, 127 2nd Ave