The Denver Café Chronicles—2914 Coffee

IMG_0980.JPGThe Fact

It takes me a minute to fit my car into a spot on the side of the road. But, wishing I had one of those fancy rear cameras only crossed my mind once before I decided that I, in fact, have successfully parallel parked. Stepping out, proud, I look up and see a cute neighborhood pub with a red door and small square tables outside of the front. I’m almost tempted to set up my laptop right there instead of the coffee shop I am headed to. As I’m walking to the coffee shop, I pass two women who are talking about how great this area is to live in because it has everything you need. And I’d agree.

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I’m feeling pretty snazzy sitting here in the same shirt that I wore to bed last night. There’s something about wearing my PJs out in public that I just dig. 2914 Coffee is a cute little coffee shop tucked away in a cute urban neighborhood just 5 minutes away from my place. Now, sitting in the shop, I’m looking out the large windows in front of me and am wishing I lived in one of the apartments with a balcony across the street. I feel a quaintness here while upbeat Saturday afternoon music plays overhead. Coffee grounds are being poured into the espresso machine, and the cinnamon I sprinkled over my cappuccino smells familiar and lovely. It’s one of those refreshing days where you can’t help but smile when you step outside. It’s a bright morning, and it feels almost too warm in this coffee shop.  But I like it. I was worried this place would be busy since I got a later start to my day after deciding to make myself banana pancakes. But, I’m pleasantly surprised to have found several tables open with the sun shining off them, clean and bright.IMG_0933.JPG

An older man sitting behind me in a small area with a red couch, red chairs and a coffee table shuffles some papers together and stands up to leave. On his way out, he passes the barista and gives a pleasant, “so long” to her. “So long,” she says back with a soft smile. This interaction makes me want to go “mmm.” It’s like the kind of “mmm” after you take a bite of crème brûlée, soft and rich in your mouth with a bitter crisp finish. I decide right then that I am going to make an effort to add the phrase “so long” to my social farewells.

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I sit and enjoy my surroundings for a few moments resting my chin on my hand as I look over past my laptop. Bon Iver starts to play overhead as the sunlight dims a bit in the shop. A sleepy Saturday gaze seems to sweep over everyone. I look around and notice the quiet, the stillness of the place and everyone in it. The barista moves quickly clearing a table in front of me. But even her quick footsteps on the wood floor vibrate slowly under my boots and make me sink deeper into this brief moment of stillness before the sun peeks back in, reflecting off every table. Just in the nick of time, a guitar quickly strums overhead.

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The Fiction

Edward sits in his armchair as the early morning light starts to peek into his living room. The small wood round table that he places his coffee on has stained rings all over it from his dislike of coasters. The wood floors absorb the warmth of the sun, he can feel it on his bare feet as he walks over to crack a window open to let a breeze in. It’s a warm morning, and the breeze feels cool as it lightly sweeps into his living room. The tall green plants he has sitting on the window sill sway slightly. He goes back to his chair and sinks deep into its warm leather. He picks up his coffee cup. Realizing it is quite hot, he holds it to his lips and lightly blows on it while he gazes out in front of him into the sunlit room. He can feel the breeze sweep past his face, and the smell of his coffee is strong and bold. He takes a small sip. Too hot still, he places it back onto the wet ring on the table. He takes his legs up and folds them close into his chest before relaxing them onto the arm of the chair. His grandkids are coming over today for breakfast. He’s planning on packing a picnic of meats and cheeses, and fresh fruit from his garden. He’ll have them pick the fruit themselves before they leave, he decides. They love using the outside hose to wash off the fruits and vegetables they pick. Smiling, he gets up and goes into the kitchen, opens up the fridge and takes out a glass pitcher of fresh squeezed orange juice. He pours himself a glass, slowly, enjoying the smooth sounds the juice makes as it hits the inside of the glass. He always loved how freshly squeezed juice foams up at the top. Since he was a kid he’s enjoyed trying to sip only the bubbles up before taking full gulps of the juice. He breaks off a piece of coffee cake that is sitting in the middle of the kitchen table and goes back to his armchair. He sets the glass of orange juice down next to his coffee. He takes a bite of his heavily cinnamoned coffee cake and takes a sip of coffee. It’s cooler now. He takes 2 more bites of his cake, finishing it off. Brushing the crumbs off his fingers onto his pant leg, he picks up his glass of orange juice. Taking a slow sip of the pulpy beverage, he notices the ring that was just left on the side table from the cup. He chews some of the pulp left in his mouth and places the cup back down onto the orange juice ring. The doorbell rings just as the heavy front door creaks as it quickly opens, and quick little footsteps run over the wood floors into the living room. 

Mission: Every week 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, “the fact,” 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, “the fiction,” 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.

Living in the moment

I find my fists clenched when I think about my future, what it looks like, playing out scenarios in my head. It’s when I feel my fingernails dig into the inside of my hands that I realize I am trying hard to grasp onto something that is not, and may not ever be real. Holding onto this pretentious reality does give me the feeling of hope, and I keep my fists clenched. I think I want it, I like the feeling of it. I feel a part of this far off reality, and  I am doing all I can to stay in it. But soon, I notice the hold in my thighs, the curl of my toes, and the clench of my jaw. I begin to feel my tense muscles ease as I become aware of them.  I let out a breath as all my muscles relax and I sink back into the bed I am lying on, the fan vibrates the wood floor, the heating unit hums with the music that is playing softly from my speaker across the room. I lie in my real reality as my daydreams fade out of my mind like smoke. As it clears, doubt stands before me, even as I close my eyes. He stands there like a brick wall, tall and strong. It’s when I try to shove him away that I notice he is more like rubber, strong and sturdy, he sways slightly but bounces back into his place. Hope and doubt live in the same room, and I feel like I need to get out of there. It’s in the corner of my eye where I see a way out, away from doubt, away from hope. They both present me with questions that I don’t know how to answer. It’s in that corner that I find the truth, or what I think it should be. I walk around doubt and make sure I don’t raise my gaze too high in fear I’ll catch a glimpse of hope and get lost in it like a plane in the clouds. Walking forward toward what is, now, is the only thing left I can think of doing.  I find the place where I can live far enough away from the two that I almost forget they’re there. It’s in the now, that’s where I choose to be.

Hey, hi it’s me

Things I live by

Choose the buffet

Coffee first, inspiration will probably follow

Dance with your eyes closed

Realize the happy mistakes

When in doubt, go with a reuben

Drink good beer first

Be awkward when the moment deserves it

the haze we see through

I’ll tell you what it’s all about.

As an adjective, casual is defined as: relaxed and unconcerned.

As a noun, it is defined as: a person who does something irregularly.

Comfy pant Saturday nights, drinking pumpkin beer on a cold fall day, festival hallucinogens, tie-die Fridays at work, hungover shower pees. It happens, casually.

Some human activities are meant to be casual. We can’t do everything in a concerned and tight manner, and people who have no irregularity are boring. But, keeping it chill translates into no strings attached which really is an excuse to live day by day which means that you really aren’t trying. Living casually is a way to get by. But when it comes to that part of the day when you find yourself alone, the ticking of the clock is the only song playing, you realize casual is what’s making your life hard. It’s keeping the goods at bay.  It’s too easy to be casual and to treat things as so. Causal feels good. Looks good. Intends to be good. But that moment when you treat what you want as casual, is the moment that you lose it. Because, some things should be treated with purpose and definition. Some things need to be grabbed by you with swagger and dignity. Because in the long run, casual can translate into indifference which can lead to carelessness, and all the while can let the things in your life that you could actually want slip right on through. It feels damn good acquiring something that you didn’t casually get.

Have casuals, but don’t live casually.

Live with purpose, and do casual things with people you enjoy…or by yourself. Act with pursuit, and casually boast about it.  Because it’s not about the things you did half assed and occasionally. When you’re old, you’re not going to remember what wasn’t important. You’re not going to remember the casual living. So, don’t let it consume your life. Don’t let it dictate your future. Don’t let the good things pass you by because they required more permanent and directive thinking.

Figure out what you want. Decide to get it. Feel it in your hands. Have it.

That’s what it’s all about.