I have to admit, I don’t often think about being fifty years old. I don’t let myself go there. And when I do, I honestly can not believe it. There’s something about being middle aged and childless. Without an ensuing generation to put one’s age in perspective, one just does not accept that one has attained the age that one has. Fifty? C’mon…a couple of years ago, I was cringing as I inched toward the big 3-0. This coming October, I will have been married for the big 3-0. My oldest niece just turned 36. There is a cognitive dissonance here that surpasses all understanding.

But this…this is one of those nights that I’m really feeling my age. And then some. My knee joints feel like they’ve been injected with spray-foam insulation. If I bend over to pick up one more thing heavier than, say, a piece of kleenex, my spine will split in half just below my waist. My fingers, toes and ankles are snapping, crackling, and popping as energetically as any breakfast cereal. Much as I can’t believe it and I hate to admit it, my little business is beginning to outstrip my physical capabilities. To put it bluntly, I’m too old for this crap!

Today, husband and I dragged ourselves out of bed at sparrow fart (well, the sparrow was blowing bubbles in the liquid air, anyway…) to be hot dog/espresso/hot chocolate vendor at the county’s official Easter Egg Hunt. Easter. Doesn’t that holiday call forth images of daffodils swaying in warm breezes, blue and yellow sky, snuggly bunnies and downy yellow chickies cavorting in the soft green grass…? In Columbia County Oregon, Easter apparently means winter temperatures, sideways rain and hail pelting the pastel balloons attached to the canopy I had to erect over my service window to protect my erstwhile patrons from drowning. Which would, as the wind whipped the fabric of the canopy, occasionally vomit torrents of trapped water onto the heads of them as might be standing in the wrong place at the wrong time. It took all our customers’ strength to force their clawlike fingers to hand me their soaked bills. The look of gratitude in their eyes when we pressed paper cups full of hot liquid into their frozen hands was painful to behold.

I’m sitting here trying to come up with words for how awful today’s event was… It cannot be described. All I can say is, all at once, I came to the realization that I am about two millimeters from the end of my rope with this thing. After nine hours of grueling, cold, slimy, grinding labor, we ended up making about $100. NOT worth the effort. Not anywhere close.

So far this season, we have been frozen, drowned, last-minuted, cancelled, mechanically challenged, and negative cash-flowed. I have about developed an ulcer worrying about my $20,000 “new” vehicle succumbing to a threatened $3000 break-down, or my five-year-old gigantic red elephant of a trailer dying a premature death, as oversized animals are wont to do. And taking me with it. If things do not change significantly, Café de la Rue will not survive past October of 2006.

Riding home next to the husband (whose eyes were glued to the side-view mirror because he swore he saw smoke coming from the back of the truck and/or the wheels of the trailer) I had the most overwhelming feeling of failure. I felt like, “…and this is what I have to show for the last four years.” A darkness settled in my mind…to match the somber clouds spitting needle-like rain onto the windshield.

I want a place of my own. Indoors. In a building. That I can go to every day. Like a real person, with a real job. Please, can I have just this one little slice of…what seems to come so easily to everyone else?