Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 282

Hi.

Coffee: Black Drip, Sweet Hut Bakery; it was the second time I went here, an East Asian bakery on Peachtree selling all kinds of bean buns and glazed kringles; we went for breakfast, took our tray to the counter, watched people walking dogs up and down the road under a crisp blue sky; I tried the ones you tried; we each had our own coffees; unlike the bean-buns, the coffee wasn’t sweet, wasn’t savory; it was weak as old beetles clinging to trees in a rainstorm, and tasted more like dishwater than brewed beans; still, I enjoyed it, because it was what I needed before a long day, a last day, plane flights, some caffeine, a little perk to sustain me

I came back from Atlanta. It was a full plane and crowded airports. We’re in the season where everyone’s going, going, going, trying hard to find somewhere to be. I saw a man in a button up rushing back and forth to ticket counters trying to check what flight he was on, a woman in a red cap and black shawl and crooked knees, two brown dogs and one white one, frustrated day-workers, a baggage loader doing jump-ups on the conveyor belt, and my own two tired feet in new socks and new shoes standing around waiting for a plane in the company of pleasant memories.

It was my third trip to the city. Isn’t it funny how the more you see of a place the smaller it’s getting? Like an erector set, only every time you add so many buildings you move down a scale, cutting off a few inches, cramming more and more into the same fixed space. I saw a lot more of Atlanta over the past four days. We went walking, driving, took a few trains. We ended up in Five Points where the wind was blowing ten degrees out of us and all the shops were closed while the Georgia State kids were on winter break. We took a trip to a district thirty-minutes outside the city where the buildings were emptying out to lay-offs and a long black turkey chased trucks out of the parking lot.

And now I’m back. Cary creeps around me like a missionary, handing out it’s pamphlets and hoping to win me over. But my heads still knocking around the Atlanta streetcorners, shaping up the city, and I think it’ll be there for a while.

Currently Reading: Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin

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You take delight not in a city’s seven or seventy wonders, but in the answer it gives to a question of yours.

Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 281

Hi.

Coffee: Americano, Ovation; hotter, but just as aggressively bright

My morning moves in slow motion. Another cafe, drifting over rain-bleached courtyards, I’m in and out of abandoned bathrooms, overhearing background business deals dealing in global heave-hos and multi-lingual buzzwords. Now I’m in another place but still snug in the half-life of out-and-about people, a cold steel-toned cafe, a girl at the counter working ten hours, a lime fizzy drink, a view of the community center bedazzled by a turned autumn oak, none of this is mine, I love it for that, I’d forgotten how it feels to be a tourist.

Currently Reading: Another Country, James Baldwin

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border  – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintery light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen. 

Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 280

Hi.

Coffee: Iced Americano, Ovation; a cafe on the corner of the Woodruf Arts Center in Atlanta; the view is glass and metal and dead cut grass; the coffee tastes too light for the scenery

I’m sitting in a semi-foreign city on my 30th birthday, a good book by Baldwin I’m too tired to read, heavy backpack, fresh off a flight, missing part of my front tooth. When I woke up this morning, I tongued the tooth and half came off. Twenty years ago, I’d broken it on the back of a classroom chair.

A new decade, beginning with dental repair. Who knows a good Atlanta dentist?

There’s an abbreviated feeling to the morning. Slippery picture window, hims and hers out on the cold museum grounds. We’re all walking quick towards somewhere warmer. I imagine you in a coat and boots coming from your office, hands tucked, ears gone red, a celebration, but briefly, because who has time to celebrate in 30 degrees, who has enough patience to part their lips when there’s just jagged broken edges inside? I’m dreaming of things I can’t do with you yet, and 30 is exasperating.

For now, this is what I’ve got: coffee through a straw on my good side, steel tables, and restless wind.

Currently Reading: Another Country, James Baldwin

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border  – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.

James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 254

Hi.

Coffee: Petunia’s House Blend, Revelator Coffee

I was listening to cars at night. Isolated, like wherever they’re going is too important for anyone to tag along. Forward motion – the only real thing in the world.

I helped out at Second Sunday at the High Museum. I was handing out fliers. Families came and the kids were making collages. The parents were elsewhere, in mind if not in body, watching people who were better dressed walk the galleries alone.

I had a drink at a taco fusion spot. They were playing a Packers game on the television. It was snowing, and the white went to water when it hit the field. I finished my drink and thought about winter, where to go from here.

Currently Reading: Another Country, James Baldwin

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border  – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

We see in order to move; we move in order to see.

William Gibson

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 253

Hi.

Coffee: House Coffee, Longleaf Restaurant; the coffee came in a porcelain carafe that matched the precariousness of yellow and red leaves in the Atlanta Botanical Garden outside; it was semi-sweet like old newspaper, remembering things that didn’t happen to you

I missed writing the Coffee Log yesterday. I was working, then driving, I got in to Atlanta at 1am. The city opened up under elaborate spidered overpasses. In midtown, lines wrapped around the Friday clubs.

This morning, under covers, the city was still cold. It looked different without the summer, all crowded in the bits of sunlight instead of running from it, there were families, and a sense of ‘get-together while we still can.’ Every brunch spot was full and the tables had mimosas.

Leaving the gardens, a four-year-old started walking backwards and said to her parents ‘Look! I’m walking this way now!’ It was the simplest thing and perfect and M thought so too.

Currently Reading: Another Country, James Baldwin

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border  – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

An autumn garden has a sadness when the sun is not shining…

Francis Brett Young, Cold Harbour

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 234

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

Walking alone one morning a few weeks back in Midtown Atlanta, I came across three dilapidated stone walls with ivy growing through them. They used to be the foundation of something, but that something was long gone. A bit of gravel and an old log were all that was stuck between them.

That part of the neighborhood had houses on high hills overlooking the road. Just a block further up was a steep iron fire escape climbing three stories. A guy in a beanie and rolled up slacks was creeping onto it from the second-story window. But anyway, the area was steep, so the broken old walls were likely the bones of a basement. I liked the way the ivy had them, and the deep gray color, and the fact that the sun was hardly out, and the smell of burnt sugar, honeysuckle, and that I was walking away somewhere with someone waiting for me, but sleeping, so that the waiting could go on and on and on with no effort, stress, anticipation. I thought about taking a picture of the three walls but I didn’t. Cameras can’t capture the feeling of old ghosts.

I spend a lot of my time looking for anchors. Bits of scenery, something that seems familiar, important, and that can fix me to a position long enough to get a grasp on who I am. A dwindling creekbed I pass every morning, or downtown Durham after the gas explosion. Life goes so fast I can’t catch myself, so I try finding the places I’ve left myself waiting.

I thought about walking between the three old walls, taking a seat on the log, but I didn’t want to disturb it. Dilapidation hangs together like a card castle. The best I can do is share a bit of it here.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border  – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

Houses have their own ways of dying, falling as variously as the generations of men, some with a tragic roar, some quietly, but to an after-life in the city of ghosts…

E.M. Forster, Howards End

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 204

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee; back at the office; came in late this morning, someone else set the brew; if you want to get the taste, soak a napkin in the bottom of a housplant’s jar, add two drops of lighter fluid, and let dry – when you take a bite, it should be on the money

I washed most of my clothes after coming back from Atlanta. I’d worn half of them in the city, or so it felt like. It was hot. We were walking around. Every time we went back to her apartment I had to change. I liked it when I got up early and it was cool enough to wear black jeans.

It’s late. I don’t have much to say today. I’ve been leaving the lights off when I get home. Curtains open, I let the sun wind me down. I spent an hour in the dark. I had on some music. I had some blank pages. I had half-written notes in my phone. There were cat pictures. There was a text I was trying to send. I didn’t send it, sent another. I wrote three paragraphs. I erased them, wrote them again. Now they’re better. I’m wearing an undershirt, two socks, and swimshorts I cut the lining out of. My hands smell like clementines.

Easing back into your life, you lose a bit of dignity. You don’t have the motivation to keep changing clothes.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border  – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

Perhaps we should never procure a new suit, however ragged or dirty the old, until we have so conducted or enterprised or sailed in some way, that we feel like new men in the old, and that to retain it would be like keeping new wine in old bottles.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 203

Hi.

Coffee: Small Black Coffee, McDonald’s; bought the cup at noon which wasn’t soon enough to pick my eyes up off the acid-wash road I’d been driving; at least the drive was a little easier after; I was so in need of the pick-me-up that I hardly tasted the coffee; really, I was just drinking a thin white cup and plastic lid

The last thing the city said to me was “Take a Right on Peachtree and keep going.” That’s how I left Atlanta.

I missed my post yesterday. The fourth time since starting, each time feels a little less bad. Is that a good thing? The Coffee Log came about in 2018 during a cold, disrupted February. The regularity of having every day work its way toward a keyboard helped me. But yesterday I was traveling and too filled up to put my thoughts down.

Atlanta looked like love to me. That’s to say it’s complicated. The streets were busy. Guys smoked the skyline on ashy tenth-floor balconies. My friend and tour-guide took me around town for a drive to different districts. It seemed like every corner had its murals in different colors. You danced between moods and misfortunes. Walk long enough by blossoming houses that can’t afford to root the ivy off their walls and you’ll get to a three-floored mansion, built on the backs of grandfathers, ready to take advantage of your budding affair.

But damn, it was all so beautiful.

Having taken a wrong turn past a bookstore, we routed a middling neighborhood holding up a canopy of century-old trees. In a patch of bare grass was a circle of tall red flowers. Then, a block later, I watched a woman pull a torn blue shirt onto a luckless man waiting out the hot day on crippled church steps. A different kind of love.

All of us are responsible to the ones we give our hearts to. Sometimes that can mean breathing a bit of space between you, and other times its to tape your fingers together and lift each other up. But it’s easiest to abuse what’s closest to you, your blood, partner, community, kin – it takes just a little bit of desire to put a hefty pricetag on what once was affordable housing, to – in deep rapture – take them for all they’re worth.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border  – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

When the Stranger says: “What is the meaning of this city ?
Do you huddle close together because you love each other?”
What will you answer? “We all dwell together
To make money from each other”? or “This is a community”?
Oh my soul, be prepared for the coming of the Stranger.
Be prepared for him who knows how to ask questions.

T.S. Eliot, The Rock

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 202

Hi.

Coffee:  Publix Cafe Espresso; a rooster cup poured up to the top, six scoops in the percolator, strong like stink beetles, the way they crawl up walls and perplex cats; it was good, but I could only finish half of it

A few blocks from Music Midtown in Atlanta and fireworks go off – the kind you aren’t expecting, that are just as much someone shouting over the intercom in a grocery store as a celebration. It woke me up. Not literally, but all of a sudden we were outside.

I spent the day walking around downtown Atlanta. Never quite in it, just on the edges, so I couldn’t tell you what the city center looks like. Where I was was breezy. Old and new buildings sitting next to each other, poker players. We ate at a seafood restaurant but didn’t eat any seafood. There was a guy selling water from a water cooler but he had to drag it around because it had lost its wheels. Those sorts of things.

It’s late now. Somewhere near hear there’s some music playing, but I can’t hear it because my ears are still full of fireworks.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border  – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

But I can hardly sit still. I keep fidgeting, crossing one leg and then the other. I feel like I could throw off sparks, or break a window–maybe rearrange all the furniture.

Raymond Carver, Where I’m Calling From: New and Selected Stories