Lincoln and I settle in on bar stools at The Pot Spoon, the only local restaurant still open from the days when we lived on the island. Hyacinth isn’t running it these days. She sits in a chair and talks to the customers, although it is hard for her to see them, her eyes almost blue with blindness. Her daughter, Zella, is now in charge.
“Ma. Ma! You remember these people? They used to run the nightclub called The Lady, up on the ridge. They’ve come back for a visit.”
“You been gone long time,” Hyacinth remarks.
She may not be able to see, but her memory is sharp. We go over the dates when we lived here and when The Lady was open. We had the bar for four years, but that was two decades in the past. Still, we remember our routine. Every day we would drive into town to eat lunch at one of the little places where everyone went. We had three favorite restaurants, each one run by an island woman. For most islanders, lunch was the big meal of the day, and for $4 at most places or $5 at the airport’s Flyaway Café, one could eat heartily while, at the same time, seeing others and catching up on all the town news.
We tell Hyacinth that she always had the best food. We reminisce about her fried pork chops and coleslaw with rice and beans, her roast chicken with potato salad, and her special fried rice that was always both soft and crispy and contained a variety of flavors and spices.
“People liked your nightclub,” she tells us. “It was a nice, nice place compared to that other one. The Uprising.” We all laugh about the contrast of the names. “Yes, your place was the classy one.” Hyacinth shifts in her chair. We ask about The Uprising.
“Burned down, long ago. I don’t know much about nightclubs now. Zella could tell you. I think there’s a couple. Not much has changed.”
Zella sets our beer down in front of us and, as I pick up the tall bottle, I think how strange it is to be drinking beer, something I rarely do at home, but which feels very familiar and comfortable on the island.
“Yeah, not much change here. Just us islanders and the expats as usual. A few more tourists than in the old days. Population about the same, around 4,000. But you probably won’t run into many people you know. Anybody who could left here and moved to the big island. You should see it over there! Supermarkets, big hotels, resorts, stores with the same sort of stuff you find in Miami. They must have 25,000 people over there now. Planes coming in from everywhere. Cars like a traffic jam. But here, well, we’re the same.”