It’s been awhile since I’ve had the time to sit and languish in the safety of a café. In fact, it’s been even longer since I’ve been to that old place where I first wrote one of these essays. Granted that has more to do with a series of ownership changes and a particularly devastating kitchen fire than time management. The other day though, I managed to crawl my way into a variation of my old haven. But I wasn’t alone.
My girlfriend had decided to join me as I lazily enjoyed my breakfast in the warmth of another person’s establishment. I want to emphasize the warmth aspect of the café we found ourselves in. because to be blunt, it’s been a wicked winter this year. The wind has blown hard and frigid and the only snow we’ve received is just the amount needed to make things stark rather than clean and fresh. The harshness of the cold has been made even more real by the fact that my furnace has chosen that it simply couldn’t continue living, if living meant experiencing one more Wisconsin January. I can appreciate that, although I don’t think I would’ve taken the same drastic approach to escape the sub-zero weather, a warm café is enough for me.
There wasn’t much to be said about walking into the café, our path to our booth was that of steadfast determination and singular desire. There was no time for letting the room wrap around us as those sorts of country restaurants deserve. In a strange change of pace, I didn’t order coffee. Instead I opted for a tall glass of orange juice, just as my girlfriend had done. In another strange change of pace for me, I was not in a search for inspiration. My eyes weren’t cast out hoping to latch onto some revelation about the universe hidden in the scratches of the well worn tables. The thoughts of my new journal and its thirsty pages or this blog were lost among the blustering banshee winds outside. It was just my girlfriend, me, and two glasses of orange juice. That’s when I noticed we were both wearing our jackets.
Now let me explain. The fact that we were wearing our jackets wasn’t the most important thing about the moment. It was simply what took me by the hand and pulled me to what I needed to see that day. I was preparing to make a silly comment about the fact that our winter gear was still wrapped around our bodies when I saw my girlfriend sitting there, her nose red as the blood came back to her face. Her cheeks flushed with the touch of newfound heat. See, I need you all to understand something. I’ve seen this woman in ever state of dress and undress there can be and by far she was wearing more clothes the other day than I had seen her in in years. Yet, she was more beautiful there, wrapped in her jacket and hat than in any moments when there was nothing at all covering her.
I tried to figure out why in that tick of the clock, in that particular café, with two glasses of orange juice, and the promise of greasy food, she looked so beautiful to me. It dawned on me that it was the cold, the unyielding bastard that had been haunting us for months. We had both been assaulted by the lack of degrees and in a moment of necessity and desperation we went to that café, together.
Eventually we had to venture back into the cold, and back to our house that wasn’t much warmer, but before we left I looked back and saw that both glasses of orange juice had been finished, and for some reason, that’s all that mattered to me.