For the uninitiated, it's easy to see only another storefront, another hole in the wall peddling caffeine to the great tired masses.
But coffee shops - real ones, not commercial Star cafes - are really havens. Here you find the artistic, slightly-intellectual, moderately pretentious, wry-humored wanderers who are looking for a place to belong without really fitting in. Awash in the glow of Mac apples, shaking slightly from the extra shot of espresso that the drug-pushers behind the counter dropped into their cups, they sit.
(or I sit, as it were...)
The thing about my coffee shops is I get unreasonably attached to them. Some serendipitous inclination attaches me to one shop or another, and if I depart from my home-base, I feel like I'm cheating on a true love with a less-than-adequate lover.
In the past three year's, I've nested in three different cities, and therefore in three different coffee shops.
In Boulder, CO, it was Saxy's Cafe.
Not the closest to home, nor the biggest, nor the smallest. Just the best (I think...). It's where I watched World Cup matches at 6AM, where I knit together May Day posies, where I crafted an ode to artwork, where I tapped out a million posts on this very blog.
Then there was Cafe Verde in Lawrence, MA.
I couldn't visit this lovely little place as often- no transportation to its green walls and light-strewn windows and delicious Brie-and-apple paninis. But I escaped every now and then to sit and sketch and dream myself away from the snow-trapped stillness of the most silent winter days.
And now, back in Philadelphia, wandering past American monuments of history and freedom every day, hoofing it every weekend to the market for cheap produce and fresh meats, to new friends' apartments for hours of construed productivity, to old friends' apartments for hours of patching up the soul and renewing old hopes and new, to yoga class or salsa class or hipster bars or irish pubs or dance clubs - trekking mile after mile in discovery of life... now, I have Cake.
Or more properly: Cake and the Beanstalk. Green walls again, bedecked with images from Jack and the Beanstalk childrens' books, furnished with mismatched furniture painted with quotes and pictures and Giving Trees and Where the Wild Things Are and Picasso, and boasting an in-house baker with an impressive talent for crafting cakes and brownies and blondies. I've found a new home base.
So if you're ever in Philadelphia on a weekend, come find me up the beanstalk...