The drive from San Francisco, California to Denton, Texas will be a long one, twenty-seven hours total according to Google Maps, but there’s this romantic Jack Kerouac feel to the last leg of our road trip.
Or maybe it just feels that way because right before we leave, Greg takes me to Caffe Trieste where Allen Ginsberg used to hang out with Kerouac.
I stand in line waiting to order some Earl Grey tea (my usual) and I would be lying if I said I’m not pretending to be an already famous writer totally late for a meeting with my publisher or agent. The small wooden tables that line the windows of the shop just beg to be bogged down by the heavy thoughts written inside a Moleskine notebook. I dig into my purse to pet my own Moleskine, acknowledging our location, letting it know we were surrounded by the ghosts of the best minds of the beat generation. It isn’t unlike a parent who keeps ruffling a kid’s hair just to be like, “Ohmigawd can you believe you’re in Disneyland?” Like, if my Moleskine had any eyes, it would probably roll them at me. Hard.
I can’t help but be enchanted by the literary history that surrounds me. As an English and Creative Writing major, I easily fall in love with words and knowing that I am standing where maybe one of my favorite poets had stood before makes me geek out in a way I usually reserve for when I see Ira Glass in person. To me, this coffee shop isn’t just a coffee shop. It is a shrine.
Greg leans over to ask, “Are you OK?” because I get a little quiet, and if you know me, I don’t get quiet. Ever. Unless one of two things is happening:
1. You just insulted Ira Glass and I’m angry.
2. I’m totally standing where Ginsberg once stood.
At the counter, the barista makes some small talk with me as he makes my tea. (That rhymed, but I seriously swear it wasn’t on purpose.)
“You from here?” he asks and I want to leap over the counter to hug him. He thinks I’m from here? He thinks I could live here? He thinks I look like a local? I wasn’t even trying to fit in and I already do. Maybe it’s the fedora I’m wearing, but either way, I’m excited.
“No,” I say. “I wish!” And Greg quickly mumbles something about just go with it. But I’ve paid for my tea and the damage is already done; I’ve said enough that the entire coffee shop knows our story and I’m pretty sure the barista and I are now Facebook friends.
I exit the coffee shop elated, caffeinated, and feeling like I just did something with my life and that I am The Next Great Writer even though the last thing I wrote down in my Moleskine the day before was definitely, “Buy Midol.”
Featured image courtesy of Drew Coffman.