The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Coffee nights

Filling up the Glass
 Coffee nights
Coffee nights

Coffee nights

I will always look back fondly on my last year of undergraduate education as the year that I divided all of my free time (which still wasn’t much) between a warmly-lit coffee shop, a tacky all-night pancake house and a quietly bustling bookstore.

Since I have no friends to speak of since my fish died (poor Gandhi … I cursed him with his name – he died of self-imposed starvation), I indulge in some eccentric but healthy solitude. I procure some arbitrary caffeinated beverage, I find a cozy corner to sit in and I watch. I watch fellow students pore over Medieval literature and accounting books and ancient Middle Eastern poetry and theological philosophy.

I watch veiled flirtation either succeed, whereupon romance fills the air and suddenly the evening is alive with possibility, or fail, at which point one person or the other makes his or her exit under forlorn glances cast by the unwitting object of an unrealized affection. I watch instructors nod and smirk and tear their hair over a pile of papers that were coaxed from reluctant brains of students. It’s fascinating mayhem.

In between bouts of bemused observation, I read. I read about Peace Corps volunteers in Sierra Leone. There is no plumbing and a woman finds comfort in the stars. Whales swim beneath boats and natives tell stories of the courage of a stranger.

I read Hemingway and imagine myself in Paris, living tragically and delicately and seeing the world through the heart of an artist.

I write passionately in mad, dim, boisterous cafes in Montmartre, thick with the odors of wine and smoke and love.

I read about psychological warfare tactics employed in the Korean War, and marvel at the uses and costs of human creativity.

Of course, none of this relates even remotely to any subject I should be studying for class. It’s one of the cruel ironies of senior year – I have the patience and attention span to learn about anything but what I’m supposed to be learning about.

However, when it comes to Japanese politics, for example, I can focus about as well as the proverbial coked-up lab rat. Le sigh …

Whatever the inherent evils of our coffee culture (Starbucks = communistic world domination = bad!), these little hazelnut-imbued pockets of casual social and literary pursuits that dot shopping centers and urban street corners seem to have set the stage for a silent 21st century renaissance of sorts.

Here ideas bounce and flow, conversations wind themselves about overstuffed armchairs, brains collide and dance. We stumble over poetry and leave wisdom strewn about like laundry.

In whispers we celebrate the past. On this canvas we paint our future. It’s not so far a cry from CC’s to a Roman piazza.

In fine European tradition, we’re using friendly, nondescript social rendezvous points as staging grounds for a revolution.

Then, out into a Texas November evening, I emerge saturated in accordion music and the fragrance of chai, murmuring voices still tumbling in my ears.

It’s like walking into a painting. I’m not sure where I am at first. The world is on a swing of light and smells and the distant sounds of oblivious voices, which probably have no idea what the world looks like.

I feel dusk and the chill of mid-autumn, and smell college sidewalks and library darkness. I walk home to whispers of crickets, feeling sick with momentum of life.

The fountain is a centerpiece to a giant table of deep green, pouring soft luminescence, blue and like a candle. Trees shudder reticent and smiling in their height and wisdom. The sky is ripening like a dark, delicious fruit in a forest of stars.

Sweet and smoky. Headlights touch roadways lightly to the dull grind of tires. I’m drunk on the beauty of being human, of being able to walk in this dream.

And I want to breathe it in so that it’s a part of me, and I want to fall into it and sink. This night, this moon, this simple walk across the tiniest corner of an endless universe.

The stuffy old buildings that smell like basements of books, where professors pore over papers late into the night, then go home to comfortable living rooms and eat healthy dinners and chat with spouses or educated cats. The blinking lights out of ancient windows, watching me watch everything and stand in silent awe.

These are the nights I’ll remember.

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