Coffee Fantasies (as opposed to coffee memoirs)

This is not the Cartesian tree that doesn't need rethinking, nor is it in any sense part of the arboretum.

Cartesian Tree: not the kind that doesn’t need rethinking, but may be part of the arboretum.

I’m engulfed by a bookstore; it swallows me whole. This bookstore is greater than the Powell’s of my youth. With multiple stories and rows of books too high to reach, I still manage to gather a basket full of paperbacks and magazines. I purchase all of them–every last one. I’m now the owner of a new book of essays, a memoir, a mystery, some classic piece of literature I previously lacked, a collection of sci-fi shorts, and a book of poems with elegant woodcut illustrations. The magazines include a psychology journal, which turns out to be a disappointment due to a lack of depth, as well as a philosophy journal that is interesting, albeit a little dry. I’m also tempted by a popular magazine that contains an interview about an actress I admire, and a gossip ‘zine in Spanish, which is silly, but I need the practice.

Then I make my way to a table near the coffee counter and browse my new selections, opting for the memoir first because I have no self-control over my book-reading habits. Or, at least, I try not to have self-control. As my husband once noted, after I told him how annoyed I was by this new Christian obsession with Intentional Living, my life is far too intentional already. If anything, I need to break out of intention every now and again and stop being so focused. What’s life without play? Hmmm…Life without play is fantastic! No, it isn’t. Eventually, I raise my bleary eyes to the larger-than-life menu and decide I need a double espresso or a black coffee. I spend quite some time deliberating over this; a black coffee lasts longer and comes with refills, but my mouth waters over the thought of a thick, golden crema on top of quality espresso that’s been perfectly ground to a fine, but not too fine, grind, and then packed to a perfect level of compaction so that the hot steam is forced through in a slow and steady trickle. Finally, I decide on a double cappuccino because this is a fantasy, and I can order anything I want. What better to top a double shot of fine espresso with than the thick foam from full-fat milk?

I sit and read and sip. After my cup is empty, I use a demitasse spoon to scrape up any remaining bit of delightful foam. I read half the memoir, which is the tale of an impetuous woman who runs off to Costa Rica just before her wedding, before moving on to the mystery. I read a few pages and skip to the interview I had wanted to read. After I’m disappointed by the emotional rhetoric of this female actress I had once admired, whose basic philosophy she expresses as I can do whatever I want!, when even the émigré bride-that-was no longer believes that, I turn to the psychology magazine to read the leading article on neuroimaging that had piqued my interest, but that is little more informative than a Wikipedia entry with a lot more pictures. I never make it to the philosophy magazine because I realize the grave error in rethinking the Cartesian tree.

I sigh. This is supposed to be a fantasy. I carry my cappuccino cup and saucer, rattling them together all the way to the buss tray. Then I slip my books and magazines back in the plastic store bags and head out, where I’m delighted to find that it’s gently drizzling outdoors. This means I’m suddenly wearing a yellow raincoat. With anticipation in my steps, I wander over the city park blocks that seem to go on forever in their acres of deep green, yellowing at the edges with the first fall leaves…until I find the magical, mystery hot dog cart and order a couple of dogs loaded with chopped onions, relish–the works really–and refill all those calories I burned while wandering through the great bookstore.

My fantasies could go on, you know. I could be staying at a glassy hotel, the kind with a lobby like an arboretum where the gentle sound of trickling water mixes with the footfalls of dignified world travelers. The rooms are never as nice as the lobby in this type of hotel. Still, this is a fantasy, and so I ride a glass elevator to a room in the sky that doesn’t just boast a view of big city, but also of the sky world, a different world, a world of…I don’t know. You’ll have to guess the rest because I passed today’s allotted 500 words 239 words ago.

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