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Fair Grinds Coffeehouse, Mid-City, New Orleans

On the back patio. Birds chirping. A fine, wet day. Wet, but no rain. At least not now.

Voices from over the fence. Through the gate people whooshing to and fro, and waiters in white linen aprons carrying boxes to the cafe across the street; children’s toys, and bicycles and tricycles interspersed with the potted plants and the dog bowls filled with water which the birds drink from. From inside the cafe comes the muffled noise of conversation and people jabbing away at their laptops. And I’m out here sopping this all up like a sponge, sipping my okay coffee, nibbling my decent muffin, and feeling strongly nostalgic for my early days of cafe culture back in Annapolis before I, and much of the world, discovered that coffee could be as good as an excellent bottle of wine or a great cocktail, that with care the most extraordinary flavors could be coaxed out of that little seed. Those days for me weren’t so care-free—I was broke and in debt at the time, working jobs that barely paid me enough to live on and pay the minimum amount necessary on my credit card statements to keep from getting charged those absurd fees that do so well to keep people in financial manacles (as if being poor and in debt isn’t enough)—but it introduced me to a life, a culture that has shaped my life and acts now as a key on a map advising where to go. And I’m eternally grateful for that.

I like this little cafe with its mediocre coffee and pretty-tasty baked goods. There’s not much care that goes into the technique of the making of the drinks and food here, but in the right place where exists the right atmosphere that doesn’t matter. This is a coffeeshop for the everyman. People of all stripes, all lifestyles, all walks of life are of course welcome here, and do come here, but it’s the common, average Joe who is most familiar to this place, as well as the many varied inhabitants of the neighborhood and any visitors passing through. It is like a great river which winding, winding, winding back on itself becomes a great pool that all the plants and the animals may water themselves at. It is a home, a destination, and a stopover point during migration. It draws all to its fecundating nexus with its mystical energies. Some stay for hours, some drift in for only a moment, but when they all leave they are better off than when they arrived. And now they know on their next migration, when the next chapter of their life is set to commence, they may stop here and begin the long process, or continue that process, of mutation, evolution, growth (caterpillar to butterfly.)


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