Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 154

Hi.

Coffee: Pike Place, Apartment Lounge Blend

I met a kid in a park outside The Parlour in Durham. Some friends were getting ice cream but ice cream doesn’t sit with me. So I was sitting down on a deck-chair listening to the lone saxophone player, and watching the courting couples, enjoying a breeze, when this kid walks past me and we look at each other. I nod, he nods, that sort of thing. He’s 18. He says: ‘What’s your name?’ so I tell him. Putting my name in his pocket, he tells me he’s got a magic trick.

Nighttime brings different colors to a city. The trick wasn’t anything special, but he did it with flair. He’s been practicing magic since he was 14. He comes to the park every Saturday for an audience. He does stand-up, too, impressions, and went off loudly on a Spongebob. It was bravely awkward and I congratted him for it.

Before leaving, he took one more trick from me. A number game, adding and subtracting, guessing what I’ve got. For the final flourish, he waved his hand in front of me. “I’m just taking something from you,” he says. “It’s just one thing, though, so you won’t miss it.” A minute later, he guesses the number. We shake hands and go our separate ways. Now, though, I’m wondering what I gave to him, and where he’ll go with it. It was just one thing, I doubt I’ll miss it; but I hope it was something good.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.

J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 47

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

Does it make any sense to grieve for a building? Or a city? I don’t know.

A little past 10:00am today there was a gas explosion in downtown Durham. A worker nicked a line while drilling holes for new internet cables. At least that’s the current story.

Honestly, it’s a mess. The mayor says they don’t really know all the details. The fire chief is still fighting the fire. The explosion was sudden and violent and it ripped a whole row of old buildings. One person died. 17 more are in the hospital.

Like any disaster, I’m concerned for the people. Human lives are worth more than a bunch of bricks. If I’m being honest, though, it’s the overhead pictures of downtown Durham smoldering that really get to me.

Cities are special. They take on a soul, the old buildings especially. A thousand people passing the same facade for fifty years imprints a bit of their emotions on the structure. Homes for our old ghosts.

The building that shattered was around the corner from a tex-mex place where I’d meet my parents when they came to visit me at college. More recently, I drove down that road on the way to meet a date at Fullsteam. I remember looking at the building – which had offices on top and a coffee shop on the bottom – and thinking ‘who would ever go here?’ It had that dangerous combination of being both too close and too far from everything else.

Gone now.

Of course, they’ll build it back up. They’ll check the lines this time to make sure none are too exposed. They’ll build a new building like they’re already doing all over the city. They’ll make something flashy, fresh, maybe even nice. But the memories that had taken residence in the old bricks are truly gone – melted glaciers.

Again, the most important thing is the human tragedy. I feel for the loss, wish them quick recoveries. But I don’t know those people. I did know the building.

Novel Count: 37,208

Currently Reading: The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

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I think one of the primary goals of a feminist landscape architecture would be to work toward a public landscape in which we can roam the streets at midnight, in which every square is available for Virginia Woolf to make up her novels.

Rebecca Solnit


Coffee Log, Day 351

Hi.

Coffee: Locomotive Blend, PennyCup Coffee

I drove to Durham just to eat a late lunch at Elmo’s Diner. I had the old avenues in my head. I wanted to see how they matched up.

They’re building a new condo complex on West Main. That’s the least surprising line I’ve written. New condos are popping up every month in the triangle. And there’s nothing wrong with that in theory – the population’s growing, you’ve got to put the people somewhere – only I wish they didn’t come connected to words like ‘luxury’ so often.

Lunch was what I expected. They put me at a table for two. Maybe they could see the baggage I was bringing. Not all bad baggage, just a lot of time lived in the place.

I ordered a spinach omelette. I ate it with ketchup. Some kid in Japan is telling me I’m doing it right – omurice! When I was teaching there, it was a all the rage with grade schoolers. After lunch, I drove around the city looking for a good stationery store but couldn’t decide on one. Then I wanted to go to a bar but couldn’t decide on one. The sun was out. It was a hot day for February.

When it’s hot you can’t settle. There’s no such thing as ‘good enough.’ On the other hand, cold days push you through the nearest open door. We’ve all got a bit of goldilocks, I guess.

I drank Canadian whiskey at home on the phone with an old friend. Okay, February, you got me – it was an average night.

Novel Count: 20,589

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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And I been really tryna be mo’ tolerant, mo’ positive
Prolly need to switch up countries (But you know why I’m here)

Smino, Anita


Coffee Log, Day 220

Hi.

Coffee: French Roast, Trader Joe’s Brand

Cosmic Cantina still smells like they’ve been cooking since yesterday. It’s on a small street off 9th, Durham, Bull City, up a staircase, beside a dance studio. You can see the Breuggers from the window. You can see the old Duke dorms from the window. I used to eat here with people I don’t know anymore.

I haven’t had much to say lately. Small talk with customers and co-workers. Line rehearsals with friends. We went to Durham to do an Escape Room. We got out under an hour. They took our picture. We walked 9th after, no-one else knew where we were going, no-one else had lived here. At Cosmic, I had a margarita. It tasted like Cozumel. The room was hot, slant-sunned. The walls were brick, slick looking, coated in something. The bar was tracked in turquoise tile. You remember small things. You remember some big things too. Neither stick around. The mind’s a graveyard.

What’s your name? Why’d we come here? Were you drunk? All of us were drunk – often – in college. Did you like me? Why’d you cut your bangs? Did I used to know you back in High School? Had we danced that summer? Were there ever nights we wished were longer? Did you order? Oh, sure, I did, for both of us. Did I order right? Why’d I do that? What’s that yellow, that blue, that orange on your cheek – is it the neon sign slung off the side of the building, are you sick, are you okay, are you happy? I can’t remember. Hell, I’ve got your name and the taste of pico de gallo, but the rest is being picked by birds and trash rats.

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith; Cherry, Nico Walker

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“I think it is all a matter of love; the more you love a memory the stronger and stranger it becomes” – Vladimir Nabokov

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