I stand along the edge of Patras, Greece and watch the blueness of the waves push themselves onto the shore. They are rhythmically breathing: in and out, in and out. The crisp smell of the salt is as light and gentle as the blue water, and it playfully dances in the breeze that surrounds me. Mountains make themselves known in the distance. And then, as the water-polished rocks crunch under the weight of my steps, the sound of the breathing ocean begins to fade and I am soon surrounded with the sharp smell of greenness and the sound of a great buzzing of bees and positive singing of birds. The tall grass shimmers in the breeze! Bugs dart all around, full of energy and purpose! Sunlight pierces through my shirt and soaks into my skin! I look behind me: the mountains have descended into the atmosphere and the ocean now a single shade of royalty. I continue to make my way up, and soon it is all faded into the distance.
Last weekend I passed my time in Madrid, Spain, and let me tell you, it was one of the greatest places I’ve ever been. I know many would disagree with me, but hear me out.
Anyone who knows me even a little knows how much I love Dallas. The independent attitude and artistic vibe is so unique and has yet to be matched… until last weekend. Madrid was like a Spanish Dallas. A Spanish. Dallas. My favorite city in the world combined with the authenticity of the Spanish culture and language!? What more could I ask for?
Now I’ll admit that it takes a certain kind of person to really appreciate Dallas, Texas and probably Madrid, too. In these places graffiti is not gang signs or petty vandalism, it’s the product of a creative mind and artistic expression (yes, there is a difference). People don’tn stay out until 3 A.M. because they’re getting drunk or selling drugs (though there is a little of that too), it’s because they’re truly enjoying each other’s company at the only time of day they’re not all at work or in school. People are EVERYWHERE. Couples kiss on park benches. Friends laugh emphatically on the streets. Dogs trot alongside their owners and sniff every lamp post they pass.
A man eloquently plays the Spanish guitar underground in the metro station. His fingers dance across all the strings; the music resounds through the concrete tunnels.
An artist props his table up in La Plaza Mayor and studies not only the architecture, but the emotion of the buildings above him and frosts acrylic paint across the white canvas with his pallet knife, painting the essence of his city onto the fabric.
With the added bonus of churros con chocolate, sangria, and paella, you could take me back to Madrid any day. We could awe at the still life street performers and say no to las discotecas all over again, explore, and come to know it even better.
Until next time, chao, mis amigos.
Midwest City, Oklahoma
There is a part of me that believes that everyone has a sort of unacquainted love for coffee shops, and I’m not going to claim that I’m one of only a few who is so encompassed by the fresh, exotic coffee, easy music, local artwork, a wealth of books, and soft, old couches. Our human person can’t help but be at least a little drawn towards it.
I suppose I’m just one who takes that and runs with it.
Underground Coffee is maybe 2 minutes from my house, which makes it the perfect… place. The Underground has become my thinking place, my resting place, my homework, frantic-essay writing place, my catching-up-with-old-friends place and, ultimately, my place. With inexpensive coffee and an abundance of very exceptional house specials, there is always something new to try, though my go-to is simple: a regular 12-oz coffee with coconut (It’s a Tica thing).
Though there are countless numbers of coffee shops here in Dallas, there will always be days when my heart longs for the familiar feel of the Underground and it’s breathe-easy, everything-is-going-to-be-alright atmosphere. I am capable of giving Underground Coffee such an strong and gentle place in my heart because it is here that good conversations, honest thoughts, and real feelings have taken a hold of me and those whom I’m surrounded with. I’m sure you have those places for you too. Think about it. What does it look like? What does it smell like? Do you sit; do you stand? Who are you with? Do you write; do you pray; do you think; do you talk? What is it, exactly, about this place that makes it so unique, so special, so yours?
I’d love to meet you there.
I picked up a little collection of writings on display as I waited for my Something With Cream at Java Me Up, the coffee shop I had searched so long for. Grub Street Grackle, it read. The Grackle is Dead. Long Live the Grackle! There was a light coffee stain on the front of the paper cover on the small, handcrafted booklet. I opened it up and flipped to a page about miniature black holes- according to the entry, a patent was filed in Japan on a “Personal-Sized-Black-Hole-Powered Light Reduction Apparatus.” Drawn into the passage, I didn’t even hear the barista come up behind me and set my Something With Cream on the table beside the book.
“Are you ready for this?” She smiled as she took the paper wrapper off the tip of the green straw in my Something. “It’s pretty unique…”
“What is it?” I laughed and took a sip of the mystery drink. Ha! It was spectacular.
“It’s French Toast.”
This place knew how to please me, that’s for sure. “It actually tastes like french toast!”
“Yup,” the barista smiled, clearly proud of her creation, as she went to attend to other customers. “It sure does.”
So now there’s a week until finals and I’ve managed to find myself lounging on a worn, greenish-yellow chair surrounded by magazines, tea, and local artwork in the corner of a little coffee shop right next to the neighborhood library as I’m drinking the one-and-only French Toast Cappuccino. I’m an hour and 16 minutes (give or take) away from the school and $14 shorter (couldn’t leave the Grub Street Grackle behind). My essay remains unwritten, my math problems uncalculated, and my laundry unwashed. But sometimes you just gotta get out and explore, you know? Take chances, even if all that chance is is finding your way to that coffee shop you’ve been thinking about for days and leaving your drink in the hands of the barista who would love nothing more than to create something “interesting” and “new”. Sometimes a little spice to your day is all you really need to keep going.
I went out with no plan and took 3 hours on bike, bus, and train to end up at a little hole-in-the-wall coffee shop to order a Something With Cream and be presented with a French Toast frappuccino and immerse myself in some of the most bizarre literary pieces I’ve ever read.
Welcome to the first of my coffee shop adventures. Brace yourself, this is gonna be good.
Until the next time,