Inside Acuppa-Cuppa, on the corner of Camino Carlos Rey and Rodeo, the cafe glass front looks on a sidewalk patio, the parking lot, and a small dirt island (the home of three aspiring evergreens). Light traffic rolls by and the sky is the flavor blue. Winter has only flirted with Santa Fe and the day is almost balmy.
By the door two overstuffed lounge chairs bookend a small table set with a vibrant chrysanthemum. The main table (unused at the moment) is a thick pine job, seating for six. It can seat eight or more when the writer’s club meets as we did all the last month. Our table is littered now like an abandoned street with large flimsy pages of picked over newsprint. Anon.
Christmas decorations are up. Made in China plastic boughs of cedar line the glass, drape over the doors (both Men’s and Women’s) not to mention under the counters. Ornaments the size of healthy snowballs glitter crimson and white.
Where one walks in I sit to the left in the booth section. At the door is a quick catch of breath for what? Caw-fee. Welcome says the room. Kind of. Filling out her mid-twenties a shocking vision in red will have a cappuccino. Freckles like a field of tiny flowers along her bust line she comes here daily to meet her love. He’ll go anywhere with her in a venti cup. Backing through the door she pauses for a kiss. A bus trundles by, rocking. Bury me like a puff of smoke.
Parading over the walls is a fresh installation of local art; framed swirls of color; slices of bedrock underlying Dr. Seuss topography. It’s fine. Not bad really, selling one by one as the affixed post-it notes indicate. A tinkling from the door; commuters between points A and B.
An unshaved young man with morning hair like aloe vera comes in, sits down. Blinking. The woman across from him frowns, says she only has five minutes left.
At the main table a gold cuff link hovers flipping pages tossing aside local news for the latest issue of monopoly money magazine. A double latte. On the way out he is surely going places, surreptitiously tucking the magazine under his arm.
Another deep sit – unsure what I miss most. Time is new. Music in the pipe overhead and the tempo of an elevated heart rate meet. Over the college ruled page my inked up observations lay finely braided as a hairball; a Gordian knot; a gray weight to cleave in two. A painter leaves open a bit of canvas for the world to fill in. How empty? Reading faces. Not so blank, not so at all.
Stepping up to the counter, his walking cane exhibits a certain flourish – coffee, room for cream. A stack of paper cups lose one.
It’s tribal business – a joke overheard: paying for a Buddha burger with a twenty he requests his change. Change comes from within. A fifty year old goatee laughs like all his trading cards are going to get autographed. They don’t. The espresso machine makes that sucky frothing noise. But a latte with a touch of cinnamon slides forward.
Whipping out from behind the counter with a bus-tub and a rag David clears tables with spoken word: Macs on this side, PC’s on that – touch pads and cell phones mix it up. Over a quiet cup here’s two not balancing a checkbook, surfing the web, or putting each other on. Ka-ching goes the tip jar. Cream and sugar under the bulletin board – The Nutcracker Ballet, Chanuka on Ice, ah – a business card – Holistic Healing… Let’s see… Zombie-thon on Thursday night. Ten dollars. You live only once or so. Bring the kids.
He scoops the sunflower shells off my table and touches up my coffee leaving behind a scribbled note – a quote by Lloyd no less. “No need to obsess about it. Our failures are imperfect too.” And with a servants heart he hops behind the counter to take another order.
Trapezoidally skewed, chairs from the perspective of a student sketch book kindly handed back. An itinerant congregation gathers, holding cups like articles of faith. They own the floor for a few more. It’s all words, words, words. We write them down and breathe them out in the company of others like us.
Hot apple cider – the very smell glows. A wrist watch flashes. The one on the wall says almost two. What do you know – busted. What did you get? Accused of political crimes and just being that way – like a split oyster. I only dream upon the page.
Something else again. Losing touch. Midlife. Bounds. No secrets. You can’t mean it. But I do… Who are you with? No one. First there was a mountain – then there was none – then there was.
Stop. Look. See. Write. Bag it to go. In the glass case: biscotti, bearclaws, muffins, scones, quiche and bagels. I mean it all, the whole place, to go, please.