Hot August afternoons. Dark November mornings. The flicker of time in between. I spend just short of all my days in coffee shops. Here’s a record, in the form of poems and photos created during moments of in-between. A pause. The hours on end I give myself to exist in a stagnant solitude or maze of conversation. Excerpts from my journal that in a sense are written exhalations. The dreams that don’t want to leave my mind. People I don’t want to lose the memory of. Mostly ramblings, run on sentences, or fragments. My inability to urge a disarray of emotions onto paper is evident. But there’s nostalgia that pulls at my heartstrings woven into the things I saw as important enough to mark with ink as I meandered from cafe to cafe over a stretch of months. Enjoy.
Lower East Side NYC.
Silk sheets, angels wrapped in light. Out the door before 9, fingers laced together and bags clutched in our other hands. Second day in the city. Hot asphalt and balmy breezes. Past fire escapes dotted with people dressed in worn out t-shirts escaping their apartments with broken AC. Construction in the morning, the rooster of this city. An alarm clock for the masses. Songs playing in my mind that fit alongside the humming fans and frantic footsteps on sidewalks like a harmony. A tune stuck in the city’s head.
Conversation carries us to a place around the corner. Walls masked with art. Chairs from a peculiar array of decades placed beside coffee stained tables. On those tables sit rich colored candles and vintage green bottles serving as water pitchers. A garage door’s fashioned into a lengthy “window” opening up the quaint cafe into an airy space. We promptly sit and reside for a while at the table by a window after ordering iced coffees and avocado on bagels. Those were burnt and the coffee dark. But our droopy eyelids slowly lift. Small yellow notebooks and film cameras once tucked away are brought into view.
Upper West Side NYC.
I haven’t brushed my hair for a week and my clothes are all too warm to wear in this heat. Air conditioned spaces are sparse and savored in New York. The cafe a block away from the apartment is my haven. A sanctuary made of big ceiling fans and endless iced coffee, though it’s overpriced.
Residual feelings. Left over from a month of only allowing myself to outwardly exist.
I pretend lots of the time. Unintentionally. Mostly for a lack of security in my feelings and ambitions. Last morning here. Clutching hands with Chelle. I told her this as we walked to get miscellaneous items from the corner store late last night. With the ebb and flow of people and priorities my stance waivers.
My tone reversed as the sun joined us in the form of reflections through the cluster of glasses laid before us. My once somber voice turned melodic, I spoke of dreams I’ve held near and places dear.
Running on 30 minutes of sleep. It’s a rarity, but this time around the lack of sleep leaves me feeling floaty. We drove through the countryside to a little town where solace was found in a small coffee shop off a road lined with candy colored houses. We nimbly climbed up twisty steps to the tippity top of a cafe, greeted with warm smiles we ordered coffee and soup. Unlike yesterday, which began and ended in a familiar darkness, one dotted with lavender clouds, today ends with a palette of vibrant fushia and chartrusse painted across a deep sky. Aurora Borealis.
We’ve left the house to find breakfast. At the cafe, woven chairs all face towards the street. People wander in and out of view, it’s like a movie. Baguettes under their arms and flowers in baskets on scooters, whirring past. Arms crossed, scarves piled high, fit to sit next to frosted cakes in the cafe window. I came here just last month, but since then sparrows songs have been traded for crows calls and clammering of bicyclists attempting to unlock their bikes, a simple task in warmer months now strenuous for cold hands. Lost in observation, eventually I animate and we go inside. It’s a golden heaven of pasteries and espresso, we’re so wrapped up in ordering croissants that the name slips our mind. We traipse home to open closed blinds, and fill empty mugs with coffee. Toustle freshly washed hair, and wander back out.
The lights are gloomy, reflecting off already hazy crystal cups and liquour bottles. We left our fourth floor apartment and took a right on Rue Marie Stuart. The cobblestone below dewy and slick from rain. I ordered and minutes later an espresso accompanied by an earl grey tea were placed in front of us. They play ill- fitting music for a place with clasic french wicker tables and leather chairs. A copper tray once piled high with olives is now a resting place for pits and toothpicks. We’ve just arrived back in paris, it feels different from last time, and only today did I understand it was me not the city.
Seven dollars is a high bargain for espresso. But at this cafe you pay for the years of eloquent words written and spoken at these forest green tables splashed with cream colored cursive and outlined in gold. We weren’t planning on going, but found our way there none the less. Each pondering why the city made us feel how it did, the meloncholia in this thought was that I knew it wouldn’t last. We all did, I found myself so phased by the fact it would dissipate that I did all I could so the memories wouldn’t.
Off the train. Welcomed by bouganvilla and quiet streets, a rare luxury. We stepped off into the vibrant seaside village. Only moments later my foot kicked a piece of paper off the ground, bringing it afloat. I picked it up and shoved it in my basket in hopes it was a love letter but assuming a grocery list. Earlier that morning we carelessly pocketed only a handfull of small coins so we opted for a single espresso. I pulled out my journal and along with it fell the piece of paper long forgotten. A romantic love story afterall.
Each morning I’ve ever spent in Nice began the same. An early rise was the price for an open table. At 7am I’d wake as the commotion began as the market was set up. I’d slip into a sundress and tame my messy hair with a hat before grabbing just enough euros for a coffee and baguette, 2.50. The ones out the earliest interested me the most. Lovers usually, but never the pair, just an individual. You could tell they were in love from how they walked, the jump in their step not possesed by someone who’s up that early without coffee. The tell all is flowers. In Nice the markets stay lively until late afternoon, if one’s up to grab flowers before noon it’s not for themself. You can catch them smiling at the ground sometimes and I hope the one they love knows they feel as they do.
Hazy Autumnal light flooding through the stained glass windows. The place is full aside from one small table in the far back. I ordered a cappuccino and breakfast sandwich. My jacket and hat still on due to the lingering chill from my walk through the brisk morning air. I cleaned the wine stain from my white sweater with a paper napkin. How is it that the realization of leaving a place can over power the joy of being there. This thought frustrates me to no end. Soon enough I remember that I’m here with a group and do my best to hush my mind so I can converse as they please. But the smell of coffee and warmth radiating from my cup ushers me back into a dream-like-state.Single pink poppy.
Wax from candles dripping.
White wooden table.
Letters to others,
Kept as notes to self.
windows stained with rain
Pearly ceramic mugs in contrast with the glossy pink tables. We’ve come here time and time again, each day winding through alleyways and over bridges pausing to toss pennies into the fountain just past Notre Dame.
I handed Cami, then Ciaffy my journal. They wrote for a while.
I’m in such a dreamy mood, constantly asking,
“Is this real?”
I just drank a glass of Kir and I’m a little tipsy. Don’t mind the messy writing and jumbled words. I’m gazing at all of you as we sit in this brasserie and can’t help but think “FUCK” how is this reality. Just remember if you’re ever in a funk, life can be so good if you change your perspective. Remeber the things you love and have loved. The amazing things will come again, the bad too, all of it helping you grow.
I love you Cyb,
Your Frenchie Camille.”
You’re my best friend! I love you so so so much. My beauty queen! I think so highly of you. You’re incredibly smart and kind. Caring, funny, and wonderful. I am watching you look through your glass and view the world through kaelidascope eyes and I am thinking how rare it is that people find beauty in such simple things. No one is like you. I can’t describe how much you mean to me.
Thank you for everything,
Thats all, XO -Cybelle.
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