Back in the City

Friday, January 31, 2020 | 0 Comment(s)

I'm having flashbacks to pre-grad school. While those words hold no real polarizing valence, I can tell you with certainty, it's a good thing.

Back in Boston, inhabiting coffee shops. I find various cozy electrified nooks and each day brings new coworkers with colorful tales to overhear. You never forget the first break-up you get to completely overhear one side off.

"Tell me what I just said? What did I just say? Cause you're not even listening. Ok, a summary, the gist, of what I just said? It IS important! This is the whole problem. UUUUUfffff. You're infuriating."

Solid content.

Today I reflect on the twenty-something Black man sitting to my right with a 1619 hat that is fire (Boomers, "fire" is slang for cool.) I think about how, if I wore the same hat, it could potentially be interpreted as making the opposite statement that it does on this man's head. I think how important it is for White people to deal with certain experiences being off limits to them. I can't wear that hat in much the same way that I can't, and have no i interest in, saying the n-word. With marginalized communities constantly forced by society into regulating their behaviors and speech, it good for the people in power to at least feel how sharp the tip of the iceberg can be. On a lighter note, I think about how difficult it would be to compliment him on such a hat, while simultaneously trying to find those words.

The micro-aggressions regarding claiming one's coffee shop space is the ballet version of throwing your lawn chair in the parking space you just dug your car out of. One person will throw their coat on the opposite side of the booth, making it look as if another person may have just gotten up and is in the bathroom. My favorite is the "chord drape," where the person in the booth puts their extension chord on the opposite seat of the booth, while plugged in. A bold, I don't give a shit about you, at times emphasized by having one's stuff strewn across the table as if it were their thesis carol.

Yesterday's booth mate rolled out both the coat & extension cord gambit. All I can say is that is does give me some small measure of pleasure to watch the offending party clean up their space like a 7-year-old forced to tidy their bedroom. There is shame in that moment, though I'm sure the apathy of city living is an effective defense to any such self-reflection in the moment. In my current shop, there are a few "comfy chairs" (that is their style, not a description of them. Only one of the three is actually physically comfortable). What I've found is that people rearrange these chairs to cordoned off whole areas for themselves. As in, they move the chairs to outline a physical area much larger than is needed for two people to chat comfortably. A bold move.

Solid content.

There's a lot of kindness as well. There are the baristas who want to get to know you and the people going out of their way to orient newbs to where the power outlets are located, and where you can find the various milks and nut milks to cream your coffee. I wish I had one Make-A-Wish-like story about a kindness I witnessed, or manifested, or was done for me. None yet to speak of. But that doesn't take away from the environment that's been created where I feel like that kind of magic could happen. Probably why I chose this place. Or perhaps, it's because they are the best combination of atmosphere and quality coffee. Or perhaps it's because my wife found an adorable pet friendly apartment for us in Jamaica Plains six months ago, and this is the closest coffee shop whose name isn't a coffee related pun. It's always really difficult trying to figure out the Why.

"Stop trying to make coffee puns a THING, Gretchen!"
Some of my favorite stories, A Prayer for Owen Meany and The Power of One immediately come to mind. They spend the vast majority of their time-tested tales telling you the What, only to reveal the Why's at the conclusion.

In this case, the Why is that writing takes practices, and more writing begets more writing. Thanks for bearing with my abrupt blip of a brief blurb.

Solid content.

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