Coffee Chronicles #1

Today I’m writing from Hartford Coffee Company. I don’t really know how this is going to work, since this is the first one, but I thought writing about what’s going on in here would be an appropriate way to channel some writing energy while I’m out.

People who have come in since I’ve been here (that I remember enough to write about  now):

  • Obnoxious guy in his wrinkled, brown, button-up cowboy-style shirt, wearing tight jeans and heavy-soled shoes that thud-click across the wooden floor. He carries a Bell jar with a handle and a lid to put his coffee in and doesn’t take off his aviators when he enters the building. His beard is scraggly and lends the sense that he sleeps on friends’ couches frequently.
  • Pleasant-looking man who probably turned some heads twenty years ago. His embroidered polo shirt is heather gray and untucked, and he wears running shoes; he probably lives nearby and walks here for black coffee to satisfy his appreciation of the drink, the day, and exercise.
  • Two college kids looking to study–one has his plaid sleeves and jeans rolled up, glasses, acne scars and coarse stubble on his round face. She tries too hard to look grungy, wearing short leggings under gym shorts under a sweatshirt. Young, probably freshmen or sophomores.
  • Relaxed guy fusing an interest in the outdoors and technology. His green canvas bag looks stuffed and lumpy against his side. His toes are bare, poking out the front of his double-strap sandals. Glasses, facial hair, fedora that borders on being an outdoor sunhat. He reads a textbook outside with his large mug and scone.
  • Windswept, gray-haired woman wearing swishy workout pants and iPod headphones, coming in for a drink after a brisk walk or jog.
  • Cascading-curls-long-blouse-black-leggings-brass-brads-on-the-legs woman.
  • Short, distracted man in a long-sleeve shirt, eyes and beard searching dazedly for the counter.
  • Slowly, a man who looks around slowly, eyes slowly shifting. He examines the entryway as he steps toward it. It is his first time here, the end of his tie drifting in the breeze. His suit jacket and casual dress shirt match the colors of the tie, yellow and blue. He wears lace-up walking shoes, not leather loafers. His beard is white though the remains of his hair are dark. He glances around the counter as he orders. His expression crosses a vague wonderment with the hint of a smile present at the corners of his mouth. He places his plate and mug in the bus tub with only the slightest clink when he has finished. There are a few persistent cat hairs clinging to the swaying back of his jacket.
  • She was already inside: putting her things in the bus tub near the door, the sky-blue edge of a short, ruffled skirt and a spotty purple bruise mottling the back of a leg belonging to a woman in long jacket with waves of red hair.
  • An older man, dense and lumpy in his hair-covered polo, collar disheveled.
  • Carrying his biography of Oprah, a man in a t-shirt and hooded sweatshirt, rectangular glasses and close-cropped hair.
  • A woman in shades of pink, the strap of her purse cutting diagonally across her chest, a Whole Foods reusable bag in a pouch clipped to the side of it. She tethers her long-muzzled terrier outside, who barks expectantly as a group of people walk in. The woman with cargo pockets returns to her companion with a bag of coffee beans and a cup of water, part of which she pours into a bowl for him.

Maybe I should try to guess what they’re drinking, or specify whether they got to-go cups or big house mugs.

Outside, the neighborhood hums quietly, cars passing through the four-way stop at semi-regular intervals, people wandering along with MP3 players and sweated-through clothes, armfuls of flowers and fistfuls of weeds shivering with each small gust. Despite the sun, the wire patio tables are deserted. Cardboard cut-outs of forks hang in the larger windows, their handles bent in impossible zigzags. Potted plants fight for life on the windowsills. All street parking is occupied as far as the eye can see in either direction.

I had a latte and part of me would like to get a black coffee for the road, but the sensible part of me knows this would be a bad idea. Soon I should leave so I can put the goat cheese I bought at the nearby farmers’ market in the fridge. But at the moment, I pretend that the cup of ice I put in the thermal bag with the cheese has not melted and I have nowhere to be and can stay here as long as I would like and drink as much coffee. I have been having headaches again recently, and I cannot decide whether they stem from renewed caffeine addiction or clenching my jaw for most of the day. Either way, unemployment is still the culprit.

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About Chelsea
I'm currently pursuing my MFA in Writing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. My ideal career path involves using writing, publication, and writing education to enact progressive social change.

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