Another cold day and I suddenly decide that when it's too cold to be at Towl Park, I will go to a coffee house that I want to try. So many seem to be popping up.
Today, I decide to glide by Archetype Coffee in the Blackstone area. I worry that there will be no place to park as it is all street parking, no lot. I decide that if I can't find a place, I will head over to a Crane Coffee where I know there is a parking lot.
I drive down Farnam street. No luck. No place free. Something tells me to go around the block once before giving up. I do this. Miraculously, a large spot directly in front of the coffee house opens up. Even more miraculously, there is still 45 minutes on the meter! I plug it with an extra quarter.
As I walk in, I am greeted by a large group of young, delicious looking men, All with long hair, some tied back in man buns. They look like Jesus and and his apostles, if there were only seven and hipsters. They're all young, gorgeous and talking about a band called "Savages." An all female band.
"They're jazz, but more fluidy," says one adorable hipster man.
"Way too tight fisted for jazz, dude," says another. They all talk about how having drums back lit is a "zip move." I don't speak fluent hipster, but I believe this is good. Apparently, this band plays with lots of "ferocious but messy" guitar licks.
"Post punk," says one.
"Naw. More like radical spirituality," another answers.
I stand, listening, waiting for my chai. I'm fascinated, not with the talk so much; I've never been on the cutting edge of the music scene. Nirvana is about as edgey as I drift, and they are long off the charts. What intrigues me is how incredibly beautiful these young men are.
They are all standing in a semi-circle, clutching cups of coffee and debating in their men voices. I'm instantly thrown back into my college days. To the UNO break room on the first floor of the Admin building. I'd go there in between classes and meet up with Amy, Ruth, David, Melanie, Rhonda, Jim, Patrick, Steve, and Bernadette. We were all either English or Drama majors and would debate Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five or Cat's Cradle, about how instinct has a place in all humanity and about Bokonon's belief in inevitability. Was it kind or just frustrating?
I remembered how I cared passionately about these things. How we'd all pick one of Shakespeare's sonnets and recite it in rust belt vernacular. I felt so ALIVE back then, so full of opinions and the sureness of my own voice.
Now, I am simply an older woman in a plaid coat with nondescript gray hair, listening to the "youngsters" and smiling to myself. Waiting for my chai, glancing at the men's boots (we used to call them "waffle stompers") and wondering how old they are and why they have so much mid afternoon time. I think about my niece, Katie, and wonder which of these men would appeal to her. I squint my eyes, considering. Probably the one with the deep dimples and the James Dean smirk. The one who might enjoy breaking a few ironclad rules.
"Here you go, ma'am," the male barista says and hands me my chai. It is a lovely, creamy drink in a bright white cup with a matching saucer. The "ma'am" stings a little, but I'm used to it. I carry my tea to an open table, admiring the pale golden floors, the dark mahoghany tables and the hard chrome chairs set against them.
I notice that the male group is disipating. A shame. I enjoy hearing hipster talk. There is a lot of back womping and waving of hands and they are all gone, letting a poof of cold air slide into this warm nook.
The chai is excellent. There's music playing but I don't recognize it. This place looks like a commercial for diversity. Older men with porkpie hats sit reading paperbacks. An Asian couple sits with their cherub cheeked daughter, they sit so close together that their black, shiny hair touches.
Two girls in jeans and turtlenecks are bent over a lap top, working on an architectual plan. A lone man writes furiously on his own lap top, hitting the keys hard. He looks like he is on a deadline. I remember deadlines. Long ago and far away.
I sit, write, and drink my chai. I'm not pining my past. I remember the other half of that young woman. The one who always felt lost in a crowd, who wondered if anyone would ever love her enough to send her a racy Valentine. A woman who loved her family but felt like the orphan at the table. No. I have no wish to go back. I'd only do it if I could whisper in her ear that she was perfectly fine, so much smarter than she thought, and that, yes, she'd receive not just one, but several racy Valentines.
And I'd also tell her that she was just great. As is. And not to EVER let anyone tell her otherwise or treat her otherwise.
For now, I bundle up and brace myself for the splash of cold air on my face as I open the door to leave.
Tomorrow may be park weather.