It's some my favourite time - sitting in cafes.I order a coffee (just one these days), get my iPad out, set it up, open Pages and begin to type. It might be a poem, some lyrics for a song or it might be a snapshot of my headspace - like this one - where I just start writing and keep going. Once I learnt to take the pressure off myself - eradicate the false belief that what I record has to be of outstanding merit, have direction, be impressive - I began to enjoy just going and flowing, letting the moment guide me. Like surfing. Like lots of things like that.
There's usually some cool music playing in the background - Bob Marley at the moment - and people coming and going. A veteran observer of human nature, I sporadically look up from my screen and take in the scene. Of course I am drawn in by the allure of pretty girls but they by no means dominate my attention. I scan everyone - looking for their unique style, flavour, flair. I overhear bits and pieces of conversations - just snippets; much more interesting to fill in the gaps I find than hear dialogues in their entirety . Only very rarely is there anything worth continued focus. Better just to perceive the voices as pepper on top the merging clank of cutlery, the grinding coffee machine, the background song stream and the transient traffic noise. I mostly zone out, sound wise, and inhabit a cavern inside my head.
None of this is unique to me, of course, it's a simple and common human pleasure. What is less common, though, is the daily practice of writing in said cafes. Anyone who does it will know the pleasure I am talking about. It's dreamy because you are fully present in reality but also concentratedly attended to your inner world, your creative voice. There's a musical interplay between the two. You are open to outside influences but at the same time self-trained not to allow the extraneous to distract you from your mission.
I apportion my coffee to last for close to an hour; sometimes a little more, sometimes I'll order a second round. I don't eat on these occasions. It is too distracting, saps my energy. Food is an easy high. Writing is like a long bicycle ride - you just want to stay hydrated and have enough calories to keep going and that's all. You need to keep your eyes on the road (the screen) and your body moving (fingers tapping).
In the old days (ha ha) (the eighties), before portable computers, I used write long hand in my journal. Over the years I filled fifty or sixty of them - the content of which often ended up in one of my zines. As a bonus, too, back then, I used to befriend and sometimes have romances with the waitresses. At least two of my all time top five girlfriends were met this way. There are also a handful of close girl friends (two words) that I still have as close friends that also worked as waitresses back in the day.
I still make easy friendships with cafe staff these days, friendships that extend beyond the establishments, but romances are rarer because of the ever increasing age difference. Yeah, I’m getting older. I've been doing this now, writing in cafes, for thirty five years. Not surprisingly, I am most productive in the times when I have been unattached. And most (potentially) reproductive in the other times.
I used to get lonely, way back, write laments and wishful-thinking sonnets about how it could be, would be, if I could just find the right one (the next one). Then eventually, I'd find myself thrown in a gristly and delightful affair for a while (during which I wouldn't write as much) until I would be deposited back on the sandy banks of shore, solo again. Back in my seat at whichever was my fave cafe at the time - in Kings Cross, Bondi, Byron or overseas occasionally - scrawling heartfelt words of insight and speculation. I don't get lonely anymore. In fact, I treasure my solo time. I have never been much of a talker. Silence is my friend. Solitude my sanctuary. I learnt the long way round that nobody else can cure the existential angst of existence. There are some beautiful distractions but that is the extent of what they are - to me anyway.
I never got around to having a family. It just didn't happen. I was married and divorced while still in my twenties and since then I had probably three live together relationships in which making babies may have been an option - had things been (slightly) different. But things are what they are. I rarely feel regret - as much as I love babies and kids - and I know how rewarding it is to nurture them and watch them grow. Luckily, I have two beautiful, precious godsons whom I love dearly and I have a heartfelt and purposeful part in their upbringings. I also have two nephews in San Francisco, who are close to my heart.
At a time when I could have been considering family production options, in my late thirties/early forties I chose instead to spend a couple of wildly playful years, clubbing and partying. They were undoubtably two of the best years of my life (so far) which would never have happened if I had created a family of my own. Cafes have been a generous source of relationships for me but bars: bars were my diamond mines. For a few years there, I was a very rich man, metaphorically. The film, Saturday Night Fever, was released when I was sixteen and was hugely influential. Something about the electric energy of the night, the music, the group intoxication, unshackling. Searching souls finding temporary sanctuary together. Seduction. Conquest and surrender. It's a fantasy land. Temporary, intensified, unrestricted. Like Earth, Wind and Fire smoothly harmonised: Boogie Wonderland!
I just not a couples guy, I guess. I like being free to do what I want when I want. I seemed to prefer relationships that start at night, that burn brighter and burn out faster. Download/upload it all in one go. Saturate. Stay together until it flatlines. Then unplug.
I was an incurable romantic in my twenties and thirties - but no longer. I got cured. Relationships cured me. Women still take my breath away, make me giddy, awe me with their alluring, mysterious qualities but I no longer want to commit or possess. We're all on loan anyway - even in the most enduring connections. Nobody is anybody else's answer.
So here I sit, alone. Doing my thing. Everybody needs a thing. For some it is kite surfing, photography, zumba, making fresh pasta, travel, relationships. For me, it's this. And, I do hope you realise that I am talking to you. Not in physical form, not verbally, but mind to mind. Spirit to spirit. I am saying, hello, this is me. No small talk. Just the juicy stuff. How alike are we, in our own ways? How different?
We all draw from the source. I get access this way. Writing in cafes. And I dig it.
Tap, tap, tap. Sip. Tap, tap, tap. Look up. Consider. Tap, tap, tap. (Rpt)
How about you - what turns you on?