The room was abuzz with excitement as we waited for a table. This was my first time here, but my friends insisted this was the best place in town.
The best place for what you ask? For breakfast of course. Did I forget to mention that? It’s probably because I’m so hungry. Well, I was on the morning of this story.
I looked around from table to table- my eyes saw only strangers. My ears, now part of dozens of conversations already in progress, had only one question: “What was everyone talking about?!”
Well for one thing, they were talking about the fact that the owners were there. But don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t as if the staff was on high-alert; they weren’t walking on egg-shells. They were standing tall and doing their best, much like children who had practiced for weeks for their school recital, ready to perform for Momma and Daddy.
We took our seats. I looked around again but now with a mission- to find the owners. Surely it must be the two men sitting next to us. Dressed in business-casual, they talked intently without looking up. “Is that them?” I asked my friends. My instincts were wrong.
Soon after we placed our order, a lovely lady, dressed in red came by our table. Her personality was just as vibrant as her clothing. She welcomed us to her restaurant and asked a few questions to get to know us better. She told us a little about herself as well; and in just a few minutes we were old friends! The moment her story began to mirror my friends’, she excitedly called her husband over. (I had never met him before, but his City Grits are infamous!)
His age was no secret. His wife shared it with us right away! He was more than 70 years old, but he had the eyes of a young man- lit up from within and filled with purpose. Each wrinkle on his face told a story and he shared a few of them with us.
The one that immediately stood out to me was about integration. “You know what I mean,” he said. “When they integrated the schools, I moved (schools) across town.” Because of this, “move across town,” this 77 year old man graduated from the same school my friend graduated from, albeit several years earlier. My friend tells stories of how rough the school was when she went there; but if the walls could talk, they would tell stories of an even rougher time. A time when students of color became pioneers, trailblazers, if you will. A time that those who saw it first-hand will never forget. A time that, in part, shaped who they are today.
He didn’t say anything negative about those days. He didn’t discriminate against us because our skin happened to be the color of the people whose lips spewed hatred and contempt in the face of human rights.
Today, we sat around the table and talked and laughed about the things we have in common. Today, our differences weren’t dividing factors, but beautiful colors in masterful paintings. Paintings that are still being perfected by the divine artist.
I enjoyed meeting the owners today. They made me feel at home. I left happy, well-fed and with this thought: We are no longer chained to the past. We can’t rewrite history; but we can leave a different legacy for our children and grandchildren. A legacy that looks like Heaven- people of all colors, loving one another because of God who is love.
He had the eyes of a young man. I’ll never forget those eyes.
Dedicated to Turan & Sheryll Strange- the owners of Another Broken Egg, Pooler, Georgia.