|(Inman Perk, 2015)|
“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”—Ernest Hemingway
I walked into the coffee shop and was gripped with a sudden shiver. I must have looked like a duck plodding from the cold waters of the Chattahoochee. The aroma of cinnamon, vanilla, baked goods, and coffee enveloped me in a familiar comfort. I walked to the line to order my coffee. The glass encasement filled with muffins, cakes, pies, and other delicacies kept me diverted as I waited my turn. I looked around for a seat. The air was filled with conversations near and far—laughter and the faint sound of an old seventies love song encompassed my presence like an embrace. A couple of ladies got up from their table, Thank goodness, I thought.
In the darker caverns of my mind a thought tried to emerge: the thought of my couch and my bed…a distant bad memory, now. The memory again pushed forward. I had been like a hungry man that walks to the fridge, the cabinets, or the pantry over and over seeing plenty to eat yet nothing will satisfy—I would stare at my keyboard constantly, as if hypnotized by fire. As I entered my favorite old spot—The Inman Perk coffee shop—the scales fell from my mind’s eye. I felt a deep sense of passion welling up from within.
I looked around, as writers often do, and I stared deeply into the patrons and at the antiquated decor. I looked at them and through them. The high ceilings curved at the wall tops—decorated with an early 19thcentury tile system. The rustic wood floors with those square headed nails and uneven boards. I wondered whose hands had once laid the bricks of the old wall that was exposed as a sort of vignette to the rest of the shops style. The scattered couches, chairs, and tables waved to me—I was sure of it. I sipped the coffee and my insides began to warm. I thought of mom giving me hot cream-of-wheat on Saturday mornings as a kid. Live piano music suddenly replaced the background music. So peaceful. Such depth. So many layers of life interacting at once. There I was, a painter with a canvas and too many colors to choose from. What color shall I use for the base coat?
There’s something about a crowd, a place to study people, which at times invigorates my mind and soul. I felt like I was somehow restored to a former joy that was once deep, innate, and so familiar that it lived as a permanent part of me, but somehow I had lost it. My last memory had been the opposite: noise, confusion, rushing people, suffocation—check please!
The energy of the room, the return of the sun from its long one week vacation, and the warmth of the coffee became overwhelming. I was at once immersed in a multitude of thoughts, feeling, and stimulations that reminded me of my childhood birthdays. I looked at all the presents; all were pretty, some big, some small, each presenting me with an unknown treasure. If I opened this one…what would come from within?