Thursday, September 15, 2011
The thing is, it really is the dream. Or one of those dreams. Writing in a coffee shop is one of those projections of yourself you throw, in childhood, up against the wall of the unknown future. I will scribble poetry on the backs of cocktail napkins. I will breeze past the doorman at my New York City apartment. I'll spend my summers in a Paris garret doing...whatever it is you do in garrets. (At top speed. With maximum panache.)
Of course, the Devil is in the details. There are only so many cups of coffee you can drink before you get the shakes. The money I make writing barely covers my yearly car insurance bill. I have more jobs than I do readers.
Still, it's nice to step back and realize: hey, this is it. We so frequently, and so thoroughly, fail our childhood selves. We defer our dreams, or drop them, sidestep them, transmute them. And for the most part, this is good. Children have a flattened understanding of the adult world, a two-dimensional grasp of the topography of tradeoffs, compromises, complexities. As a child, you want to be a ballerina. As an adult, you know ballet dancers make $20,000 a year and are broken down has-beens at 30.
When you do realize a childhood dream, it's often by accident. One day you look up for your coffee and realize, with a jolt, that in the process of minding your own business you've wandered into a present you recognize, dimly, as an imagined future. Here you are, writing. For pay. In a coffee shop.
It's a small benediction, your lips brushing the forehead of your former self. A solace, something to console yourself with when you realize you've just spent half your incoming salary on a latte.