Earlier last year, or possibly the year before, I posted my thoughts on this place called ‘somewhere else’. It’s a space, off in the distance, but just visible, that we want to arrive at, but can’t. We can’t because, by virtue of our arrival, this ‘somewhere else’ becomes ‘here’. I enjoyed these ideas and felt them, vaguely drawing upon them whenever someone asked me if I wanted to learn French.
Little did I know these are actual ideas that people discuss. Of course, their proponents generally use more sophisticated language than I, adding a healthy dose of semiotics to describe the mind’s state as it navigates different spaces. But the ideas are out there and I, for better or for worse, get to write about them in university. That’s why I’ve been writing less here lately; university essays!!! Or rather, final year university essays!!!
Fortunately, that is, for the moment at least, somewhere else. The here and the now, on the blog heterotopia, is discussing Elsewhere Espresso, which, for my essay, was an apt name. I went the Saturday after New York’s first snowfall of 2014. It’s in the East Village between 2nd and 1st avenue. After walking through snow in rubber boots, my feet threatened to arrive at somewhere else while still being attached to my legs.
Elsewhere Espresso is small, but with a good amount of seating. There are four tables against the left side of the space and a few tall stools at a bar on the right. The exciting seating — I am, apparently, at the point of essay writing in which café seating is exciting — is the big park-like bench directly in front of the large glass windows. It’s chunkier than the kind you find outside and rather comfortable. I ordered my cortado, then immediately made my way to that bench.
It was a slow morning for the café and for New York as well. In the middle of pondering life, the barista, surprisingly, brought my drink over. While I enjoy sitting and waiting for my coffee when in London and Paris, I never expect the luxury in fast-paced New York. The gesture warmed me up to the cafe, helping me arrive at ‘elsewhere’.
The drink was fine, though not special. It had the characteristic syrupy body of a New York shot — plenty of coffee packed into the portafilter, then passed quickly through the espresso machine. There were toasty notes with hints of hazelnut. It reminded me of Italian espresso; not my ideal cup of coffee.
I stayed, looking out the window and nursing my cortado for as long as I could. It was, after all, a pleasant place in which to avoid writing an essay. Alas, all good things must come to an end and I soon had to leave the coffee heterotopia and enter the essay one.
Let’s just hope it doesn’t become the essay dystopia.
Do you enjoy people watching in cafes?
335 East 6th Street (between 2nd and 1st avenue)