Monday, June 2, 2008

Coffee Houses


I have been trying to get to sleep for hours, and I can tell that it is probably not going to happen tonight. Blogging seems a better option than tossing and turning.

Coffee houses are a relatively large part of my existence. Maybe it is because I am from Washington State where coffee is king. Now, I realise this is odd as I am a Mormon and Mormons don't drink coffee. Or tea for that matter. I, however, am a self-proclaimed expert on non-coffee drinks. I am a big fan of the Italian Soda. My personal favorite flavor is Irish cream with a squirt of chocolate syrup + cream + whipped cream. (A dessert more than a drink) One barista said that they were going to name that drink "The Christmas Soda" After me. (Natalie means Christmas in Italian).

Hot Chocolate is prefect for any cold day. Preferably with a splash of amaretto. In a HUGE white porcelain mug if one is handy.

As for herbal teas I tend towards the mint and chamomile. Fruit herbal teas are better iced.

Besides liking the drinks, I flock to the nearest cafe to write. Before I had Lydia I filled over 30 journals. I will admit it was mostly self-oriented drivel (like my blog!). About 75% of my journal entries start with "I am sitting at (such and such cafe) drinking (drink of choice) and I was thinking about....."

I am not sure what I like so much about the coffee house atmosphere. Maybe it's that coffee house atmosphere is universal and thus always makes me feel at home.

For example, as I was trying to fall asleep, I was thinking about the three standard employees of the coffee house. They can be found at most (non-Starbucks) coffee establishments.

1. The anorexic vegan girl. She is pale, with no makeup. Usually shorter hair (thin- due to malnutrition?) in two stubby braids. Cute, relatively friendly.
2. The chubby goth girl. Usually this girl is the assistant manager and she is constantly in a bad mood. Her hair is dyed black and her clothes match. Though a few of them seem to be channeling Janeane Garofalo in Reality Bites with bright red lipstick and vintage orange dresses.
3. The guy. He prefers his tight "Ramones" tee, tighter dark jeans, black boots or vintage tennis shoes. You try not to find him attractive (he weighs about the same as the vegan girl), but that is impossible knowing that he will probably be playing guitar with his punk band after his shift.

I just realised that I can almost tell the story of my life through the coffee houses I frequented. Might as well write some more. Yawn...

Where was I? Oh yea...

Each place I have lived had a certain cafe type place that I would find respite. In Spokane it was Cafe Delicioso (Now the Mercury Cafe). In high school I loved the feeling of escaping into the back alley where the locals entered. It lead to an over grown garden with a brick path. I would love to have a photograph of all of my friends and I sitting with our white mugs against the brick wall of that establishment. But posing for the camera is not really "cafe cool". (I also discovered the Rocket Cafe as a senior. I kept those visits secret so that if I was escaping any drama from parents/boyfriends - no one would know where I was. Yes, I am rolling my eyes at myself for this)

Rick's College didn't have anything note worthy - maybe that is why I disliked it so much and transferred after one year.

Jerusalem had countless little places to sit, drink and ponder. My favorite was a "pizza cafe" in a medieval stone building, run by hasidic Jews. (It was REALLY random)

For my short stint in Pendleton, Oregon, while trying to find clarity in life, I basically lived at Great Pacific. A wine and coffee bar, it was frequented equally by cowboys, hippys and yuppies. (I am not sure where I fit into that equation.)

In Utah my friends and I would travel to "Cup of Joes" in Salt Lake. It was in the center of downtown. Once a month we would go on the "Art Walk" when all the local galleries would open for free. We would retire to Cup of Joes to discuss the pieces we liked. (Just kidding. We usually talked about guys) Shane and I actually went there the night we got engaged to celebrate with chocolate cake.

When in Provo (the land of the non-coffee drinkers) I would settle on Hickory Kist Deli. Better for "Lunching" with girls than for writing, but I did both.

Clayton, GA introduced me to the country cafe. Served the same drinks, but sold floral scented candles and hand cream, along with magnets with more flowers and sappy sayings. It had a certain charm.

When I worked at a high end art gallery in Highlands, North Carolina, I spent my lunch hours in Buck's Coffee Cafe. Highlands is a mountain town where wealthy Floridians vacation in the summer and fall. I liked being a "local" in a touristy town. The hot chocolate was the best I had ever tasted, and I spent many an hour gazing lazily at the exhorbantly priced art on the wall.

Rembrandt's Coffee house is my favorite in Chattanooga. Chattanooga has a surprisingly diverse and artsy downtown. I used to love exploring the city knowing that this city could be "home" for a while.

After having Lydia, coffee house visits became difficult. That is one place you can take a baby only if they are mild mannered, and toddlers are really not a good idea. During the first year of Lydia's life I lived for Saturday mornings. Shane would take Lydia for an hour or so and I would escape to Starbucks (closest thing I could get to). I honestly didn't have the energy to write. I would order a vente skim milk hot chocolate, lite whip, extra hot. Sometimes I would sit on the patio and just relish the morning air. Sometimes I would sit in the back corner, hide behind a newspaper, and cry.

Now we have moved to the outskirts of Chattanooga. There is an adorable cafe just a few miles away. I think that this Saturday I will take my journal there. That is if I can find it
.

5 comments:

April said...

I don't think I would write in my journal at a cafe. I would bring one and sit there with it open but then I would get caught away with how perfect of a scene I was creating- and keep thinking "I look so good sitting here in this quaint coffee shop with my journal and hot chocolate"...and then I would drink like 10 cups of hot chocolate because I am an emotional eater and would rather eat than think and write about my life...

and yes Natalie..."what the hell?" is pretty much what I thought when I saw Mariah Carey's quote in the ward bulliten- but it is starting to get funny to me instead of alarming-

Joette Tomblin said...

oh I loved loved loved this entry... I take random pictures of people sitting in coffee shops... I know it sounds a little creepy but sometimes its easier for me to capture the atmosphere then to write about it..

Natalie Jane said...

joette- I have a little fantasy of taking candids of people in these kinds of settings,then walking over and handing them a card that will lead them to a website where they can download the photo for free. Of course, I would need a great camera and unlimited free time to do this, but that is why it is called a fantasy.

Maybe in Paris. Will you be my tour guide in the city of love?

i'm kelly said...

i loved this. it was a fun read. i've always loved coffee houses. when i was a teenager, my mom used to get mad at me because i'd frequent starbucks, and she just couldn't understand why i would go there, seeing as we don't drink coffee. 10 years later, she too has seen the light.

Paige said...

Rembrandt's is my favorite here in town as well. Luckily, Olivia likes it too and there is enough to look at in the courtyard to keep her occupied.

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