The Denver Café Chronicles pt. 1— Pablo’s on 6th

The Café Chronicles pt. 1

This is a project that I’ve been nervous to start. Because it is daunting. It requires me to hold myself accountable, to finish something, to follow through with an idea that I have. Following completely through with my ideas is probably the one thing that I can confidently say I struggle with the most.

Mission: Every weekend I will visit a new café/coffee shop in Denver. The daunting part of this plan is that I intend to write, blog, at each one. My idea is to have 2 segments. The first part of the blog will be my experience at the café, a review if you will, how I’m feeling, what I see, etc… The second part will consist of a fictional story that I come up with while at the café. I’ll be grabbing onto my surroundings, the vibes, and my feelings to inspire a short story. Every story will be different, either short or long, varying in genre.  I’m thinking some stories will have a final ending, and some will be left open, like a chapter in a book. I’m starting part one of the chronicles at a coffee shop that I’ve been to many times, and moving forward I plan to visit ones I’ve never been to. And there’s a lot of them. Denver, being the cool and hip city that it is, I’ve already found more than a handful near my apartment. I have been feeling nervous about this whole thing for a while, knowing myself, and how difficult this may actually be to follow through with. But here I am, at my first café writing chapter one.

The Cafe Chronicles—Pt. 1

So, The Café Chronicles. Here I am. At Pablo’s Coffee on 6th Ave. It is a coffee shop that has good drinks, not too fancy, yummy pastries, and breakfast burritos for the hungover. It is an internet free zone which I think offers a refreshing vibe. It’s always full of people writing, reading, studying, playing board games, and enjoying a conversation with friends. The windows are full of tall green plants, the walls are decorated with old-timey looking tiles, and the seating is a mix of bar seats, high tops, low tops, and couches. When I would come here often, I would like to sit on a couch where the coffee table is. Underneath the table there are drawing books full of designs, writings, and random things the patrons of Pablo’s have added while enjoying their coffee. This is what had me fall totally in love with this place. I thought it was a cool place when I first went there, but when I discovered this part of the shop that was purely the community, I felt a deeper connection with it. Being new to Denver, and feeling its massiveness, I thought these books gave this place an intimate look into the wanderers of the city. 

Walking in the front door I notice the place is packed. I sit down at one of the last open tables which is smooshed between two other small tables. It seems like it was previously pushed together to make a larger table, but now remains in an awkwardly tight location between two occupied tables who obviously don’t know each other. I smoosh myself into this table and put down my things to claim the seat before I go up to order myself a cappuccino. When I get back I carefully take out my laptop trying not to bump into the very close table next to me. I can feel the sweat start to come through my light t-shirt, my anxiety is running a bit high thanks to the pot of coffee I had at home, and also due to the fact that I am so close to the people next to me you’d think I was part of their conversation. I spend a good minute untangling my headphones that were at the bottom of my bag, and I then awkwardly try to stuff them into a jack in my computer that is not compatible. In annoyance, I throw my headphones to the side. I sit there for a moment trying to compose myself enough to get in the writing mindset when I see some shuffling ahead of me from other tables. A hightop, next to the window and also right next to the back door, just opened up. I immediately stand up with my cappuccino and squeeze my way over to claim my new, more spacious, spot. I notice the slight cold breeze from the door is even refreshing. It takes me two more trips back and forth from the tables to gather all my stuff. Finally, sitting down at this much more ideal location, I rest my feet on the bottom part of the table only to find out that the table is wobbly causing a good portion of my untouched cappuccino to spill onto the plate it is sitting on. Out of peer reaction, I let out a loud “ugh” as I get up to grab some napkins. I wipe down the little bit of the table that the drink spilled over onto, and scoot my chair back so my feet don’t touch the table. I place my coffee cup on a ledge to the left of me and open back up my laptop.

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This place is special to me, that’s why I decided this to be the first location for The Café Chronicles. When I first moved out to Denver, I moved into a room in a house I found on a roommate app. I got really lucky as it was in a cool part of town with a less than a minute walking distance to this coffee shop, a cool dive bar, a street taco restaurant, and a dispensary. For the two months that I lived here, I would come to this coffee shop almost daily to order an iced tea and read a book. This coffee shop represented a lot for me. Moving to the city, one of the things I always said I wanted to do was live near a coffee shop, become a regular, and be “one of those people.” So, it seems just right that I start The Café Chronicles here, where my Denver journey began. In the first two months of living here, I went through almost every emotion imaginable and learned a whole lot about myself and about big city living. I’m still grateful for every scary, enjoyable, exciting, lonely, and new moment that it was. So, sitting in my used to be regular spot, I find a content and satisfied feeling sweep over me that makes me excited about the journey I plan to embark on with The Café Chronicles.

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Pablo is a young man in his early 20’s. He just dropped out of school to pursue his dreams of being an artist. Now, what kind of artist, he does not know. But, he feels that schooling is not what he is supposed to be going through right now, artistry is what he wants to explore. He lost all support from his family, financially and emotionally, since they do not understand his want to be an artist. They think it was irresponsible and spontaneous. Both his parents work at a law office and hoped Pablo would follow suit.

Shortly after his decision, he gets kicked out of his parent’s house and moves in with a buddy of his from college. He stayed on his couch for a little over a month while he picked up serving shifts at a fancy restaurant down the street. After receiving a slightly aggressive nudge from his buddy’s girlfriend, Pablo set out to find his own place. He was able to save up enough money for a down payment to a very small studio apartment below a liquor store.

He doesn’t mind the trash and neon lights that surround his front door, he actually kind of likes it. He likes how active the area around him is. Sure, there are shady looking people stumbling around at all times of the night, and he has to have a loud fan on to wipe out the noise of the busy street above him, but he loves his small flat. He bought himself a multicolored round rug from a thrift store, stole a couple mugs from his parent’s house along with his coffee machine, and he spent the last of his savings on canvases, paint and brushes, drawing paper, charcoal and markers to start off his exploration of being an artist—rather, finding out the kind of artist he wants to be. The first night in his studio he sat on his rug with a dimly lit lamp in the corner and sipped on a very strong cup of coffee. He laid back onto the rug and stared up at the ceiling, smiling–car honks, drunken yells and all.

It’s the ducks!

We’re all a bunch of phonies. As Holden Caulfield might say.

It’s about this time of year that I re-read my favorite book, Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger.

I can’t really tell you why it’s my favorite. Maybe it’s my copy of the book, which is older than me and the print looks like it’s been stamped on. Its spine is all cracked and the pages have turned a bit golden. The book is kind of about nothing, but then everything at the same time. If you’ve read it, you know what I mean, and for some reason I’m compelled to pick it up every year.

I think it’s because of Holden, the main character. I like the way he talks. He’s real, you know? Like he sees things as they are. No bullshit. Just people, life, and ducks— A conversation about ducks I think is the most interesting thing in the book. And I’ll let you in on something, it’s not that interesting. Like at all. BUT. It makes you think. About, ducks. About, why ducks? And then, usually, the next thought you have is something profound. It’s weird. It’s a weird book. Real though.

And let’s be real, people need to be more real. I see it everywhere all the time—people putting on faces that aren’t theirs. Cover ups that aren’t covering up shit, only making it more obvious. Say what you mean. Mean what you say. Know what you’re saying. Original thought is often easily misplaced when having a conversation. We react how we think we should too often rather than how we really feel. We reply with “I’m good,” when asked how we are because, well hell, what else are we going to say? This is us. Phonies. Because we are never just “good.”

So, learn something from Holden. Go find out where the ducks go during the wintertime, maybe.

 

 

 

 

Hot Tamale

She sat there, staring at her newly painted wall. This color made her feel good, happy. The boldness of the color made her feel strong. Despite the murmurs from her mother about how it’s “too much,” she smiled, happy with her decision.

She got up from her bed, the wood floors were cool, the air heavy. Summer nights in this house were hot and humid. Old windows allowed little air flow. Only a breeze of chilled air whooshed out from her mother’s bedroom. The window air conditioning unit made the air smell cold.

Tired, she turned into the bathroom. It smelled of toothpaste and bathwater. The bath mat was damp on the ground. Her hair felt the humidity. She looked in the faded mirror, and splashed her face with cold water. It felt good, so she did it again. Eye closed, she grabbed for the towel hanging beside the sink—water dripped off her face onto the floor. She held the towel to her face for awhile, rubbed her eyes with it, and hung it back up. Her reflection showed a red spotty girl. Eyes puffy, skin shiny, she was ready for some sleep. Exhaling, she removed her contacts, a ritual that had become an annoying habitual bed time routine.

She walked back into her “hot tamale” red room. The room glowed like a quiet candle. Eyes blurry, she spotted the outline of her glasses on the dresser. Placing them on her dewy face, everything came into focus. Her room felt new. Now, opportunity is not a characteristic typically offered from a tiny cramped bedroom, but indeed, that is what she felt from it. The color. The god damn crazy hot tamale color—it was what she wanted. In that moment and in every moment after that she loved that color. 

She turned around and flicked the light switch off. She stood there for several seconds in the dark. Letting her eye adjust, she felt her way to her bed. Feeling the coolness of the sheets, she threw the covers to the floor. Throwing both legs onto the bed at once, she exhaled, laid her head back, and closed her eyes. For once, in a long time, she immediately drifted off into a dream. She could feel herself sinking into her bed, her pillow, as she drifted further. Darkness took over the colors of her awake mind. But soon new colors emerged as her reality slept.