Monday, January 23, 2006

Shift change at the Stadtgarten Cafe

January 23, 2006

In the Stadtgarten café this afternoon, as the sun was spinning toward dusk, His Holiness and I took our usual seats on the banquette near the front door, just off to the side of the main room, where we can watch the goings on, listen to the always interesting musical choices and HH can run somewhat amuck without disturbing the humming urban calm of the room. We found this spot about a month ago, at the same time we found the café and we have been making it our afternoon spot ever since. This evening I whispered in his ear, something that he will not recall, but I hope will become instilled in his spirit, “cafes are a part of life son.” It was something of a revelation to me when I said it, as much to myself as to him, as is much of what I say, speaking to myself really about what is good in life or about life, what to savor and what to discard, making notes about life from my point of view. After all, what is being a father if not that?
This late winter afternoon we arrived as the shifts were changing, one group of familiar faces was being replaced by another group of familiar faces. We have come to recognize, if not know, all the staff by now. The orchestra that will be performing later this evening was rehearsing in the ballroom; we could hear the horns pushing their tones through the smoke to us, stuck away in the far corner. The shifts were changing and so too was the room changing, from the late, late afternoon café crowd about to part with their cups, to the working folks just leaving their desks.
A plain stout woman on the far side of fifty sat smoking over a long stale cup of coffee. Her eyes moved across the room, back and forth drinking in all the people, the faces, the smells, storing it all for the hours she would soon face alone in her apartment, somewhere else. A young bald man in the other corner of the room, also watching but not just watching, searching for something – someone he imagines. The prep chef cutting vegetables for the night shift, lining them up, slicing the tops, dicing, chopping and scraping the ready pieces into white plastic bins for use in the sexy frenzy of the dinner hour, which seemed miles away from the moment I am describing, when everything was measured and relaxed, when half of the people were unwinding and the other half were just winding up.
Shift change at the Stadtgarten Café – a study in transition from day to night, from working to resting, from participating in the hum to sitting face to face with the stillness, and yes for me, the inevitable exchange from New York to anywhere else I might happen to be …

10 Comments:

Blogger Rich said...

OK then Ill go ahead and ask you two questions.
1) Have you ever been paid to write?
2) Only if the answer to #1 is "no", Have you ever realized that you have a way of writing things thats just about ten times better than the normal person? (And 20 times better than I).
3)(BONUS QUESTION) Would you begin a book tomorrow. And would you title the book "For Rich". You should also cover every day of your life beginning on the day you found out that you were going to be a daddy. I need help Richard and I thing you have alot of good advice for beginners at fathering for the first time. Bitte bitte bitte. Oh yes, I added your blog as a link on my site. I hope that you are OK with that. If not let me know and I will remove it ASAP.Danke

10:48 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

I may be joining you in Germany soon, given what's happened to Canada today.
Say something nice to cheer me up:]

1:58 PM  
Blogger Sarah Mackenzie said...

Rich is right you DO write beautifully and your description of café life made me miss my old urban London life. Coming out of the cold into the warm cozy steamy atmosphere of my old haunts. And the people. People from everywhere with every kind of story etched over their faces and held deep in their eyes. Rural France is a delight but nothing makes me miss my old life those kind of memories. And you were right to whisper that wise truth into HH's ear. Can you imagine him in fifteen years time sitting in front of his coffee, dreaming and watching and full of dreamy thought? Nice.

2:12 PM  
Anonymous neil said...

Another sign-up to the Rich School of Thought. Wonderful piece about grabbing a Latte Macchiato...

5:14 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

i love how you are taking the time to absorb your environs. i wish for the time to do that and the patience to observe. and the skill to write it all down.

6:25 PM  
Blogger Berlinbound said...

rich ... where have you been all my life when I needed an agent? Sincerely - thank you!

cathy ... what happened in canada? do I need to read the news? To cheer you up - um, well ... I think your blog pic with that hat is probably the cutest one I've ever seen. I was going to just keep that observation to myself ... but.

sarah ... I am such a huge fan of your pics - that it blows my mind that you are reading this blog ... thank you.

neil ... thanks - and (fyi) it was cabernet that I was drinking that afternoon ...

amanda ... thank you for your comment, I appreciate your time and thoughts and I'm happy you enjoy reading this ...

8:25 PM  
Blogger J said...

Glad that you're feeling better and you got out to the cafe. It's important for you to find places like that for you to spend time in to help you feel more at home in Cologne. It won't replace NYC, but it's a pretty good place.

7:55 AM  
Blogger Wenda said...

I've been visiting for a while now, enjoying your writing very much, yet not able to say how I was so lucky to have found my way here. I know I'll be back again and again and again.

9:56 AM  
Anonymous megan said...

gorgeous storytelling. cafes are the staff of life. this takes me back to some of my great afternoons just spent sitting and watching it all happen.

10:51 AM  
Blogger Berlinbound said...

J, W and M ...

Thanks for the encouraging words ...

7:57 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home