April 12, 2008
Chocolate in the center
I drove to work yesterday on the kind of cold and rainy morning that made me wish I could have stayed home in bed snuggled under a down quilt. I promised myself, as I drove sleepily through wet pavements blurred with the crimson of taillights, that I would reward myself at the end of the day by a trip to the Sucrose Mollusk Stone, a cafe in the city fairly close to the music center where I'd be dropping Shaggy Hair Boy off for his guitar lesson. The prospect of steaming hot soup at the end of the day put me a cheerful mood.
The Sucrose Mollusk Stone sits on a street corner in a decayed city neighborhood, just a few blocks from where my father lived as a small child. Owned and run by two women, this cafe fills the first floor of an old house that must have been a luxurious mansion 100 years ago, with sturdy beams and lovely windows. The group of women who volunteered hours of time to revamping the Italianate mansion refer to the place as an "Espresso bar and lounge," which sounds far more sophisticated than "cafe."
Once inside, I smiled hello to the owner, dumped my bag on a chair to claim a spot near the big window, and went right to the bar to look over the assortment of vegan desserts. It was easy to forget that I was in Snowstorm City: the place has a funky decor that always makes me think I'm in Big City Like No Other — and the kind of fantastic vegan cooking that can usually be found only in big cities.
After a busy week of classes and meetings, a whole hour to myself was a treat. I chatted briefly with Dark-haired Owner and then settled at the table with a bowl of hot lentil soup and my laptop computer. I've eaten there with my friend Reiki Woman, and I recently did a poetry reading there with Fire Ant, a blogging friend who writes poetry in which she is often naked. But yesterday, I was alone, and I savored time to just write and think by myself.
Three women came in to take a table near me, talking and laughing the way only close friends can. Their sentences overlapped, with phrases flowing smoothly, always at least two women talking at once, like a song that had been planned and practiced, complete with synchronized hand motions and looks of mock horror and bursts of laughter. I recognized the rhythm and depth of the conversation: girlfriend talk, one of my friends calls it. One of the women caught my eye, and we smiled at each other before I looked back down at my computer to give them their space.
Rain splashed against the windows, but warm light lit the deep red walls inside the room. The raincoat I'd hung on the back of my chair was dry already, and my fleece felt cosy as I pulled it tighter. I wrote a little, looked out the window, and sipped a cup of hot tea. The vegan cookies I chose had a whole layer of dark chocolate in the center.
Going back to the bar to pay my bill, I stopped to talk to an energetic woman who had to be at least 60. She told me funny stories that involved her motorcycle, and then she and another woman began talking about an event this May during which the city will close their streets to regular traffic and hundreds of bikers will show up for the "blessing of the bikes." I could have listened to her stories all day, but a glance at my watch told me it was time to pick up my son. My hour was over. Filled with warm food and hot tea, I packed up my stuff, put on my raincoat, and walked out into the rain.
Posted by jo(e)