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Coffee Run to Caffè Umbria

I researched a new place for this weekend, not wanting to go too far as this past week felt rather heavy. I need to cut back a bit. I'd been running 5K treadmill workouts, as far a distance I could muster indoors, and it was enough to wear me out for a Sunday long run.

The Run: Five miles to Palmer Square starting at 7:30 a.m., with another five back. The snow had not yet begun (it's moving sideways as I type this) but I felt strong throughout and the traffic was light. Cold and overcast around 28 degrees, but rather perfect for a run.

The Coffee: Light roast drip. They place a small chocolate on the saucer with your coffee, and the cup was large. I spoke with the barista as I sat at the bar area of the counter. He told me about his 18-years with coffee, that he had a cafe of his own for five years, and gave me the low-down on this particular chain. We talked about their roasting schedule and he described the pleasant sound of the roasting taking place during open hours. We were interrupted only after other customers came in, and it ended the conversation I was hoping would continue.

The Drawing: I started with quick sketches of the containers I've been thinking about: dumpsters, clothing donation bins, and recently, Amazon and UPS drop-off boxes located at retail stores. New ideas for a canister (suggested by my therapist and now visualized into a potential sculpture) emerged, plus another wheeled platform that would be able to house my body directly, with specific body parts revealed. I hit a miniature zone with my pen--a feeling of remarkable freedom and joy, just for a minute, while making these line drawings. I didn't tear into the napkin this time. It was all so very smooth.

It makes sense to me that this hip joint is in this neighborhood. The few people who walked in were all young and beautiful and 75% of them carried a child: one in utero, one in a car seat, and another in a stroller; the very orderly manner of how parenting should be. I delved into the luxuries of the space, too: the stylized freight box converted into the entrance painted with a red so pure and identical to the roasting equipment and the $25K espresso machine that sat on the front counter. A cycling jersey with Umbria graphics printed on it hung next to the display to my right, and behind me was a spigot to make us customers feel like we were tapping the fountain of youth. I told myself I should order something to eat and possibly spend all morning here.

But then I immediately retracted those feelings. I looked up for a moment and the woman with the child seat was looking at me with a solemn face. "You will never have this," she said with her cold stare. "You'll never be sophisticated nor happy like me, even with your neon running gear." I don't know why she hated me so much, or what I was doing wrong, sitting there with my coffee. I left soon after.

The American Dream is really the White American Dream, the ambition of Euro-centric ancestors and a succinct plan laid out by capitalists to taint so many peoples' perception of what success means.



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