21 March 2013

Coffee Anyone?

In a song I wrote about this place, I refer to Holly Springs as "sleepy little town dreaming." In the past few weeks it has seemed a possibly inaccurate description as doubts arise about the mind of this community. There is a stultifying level of lethargy and sluggishness evident in the empty store fronts on the square; the impractical floor plan at the library where paperback romances abound; the approximate start time and late arriving teachers at a local elementary school; the repetitive loop conversational style of most people.

The lethargy is pervasive and I am falling into its sway. My routine has become waking up around 5a, dying of thirst, guzzling from the bedside glass and dozing off; to sleep until 9a when I wake up, wonder what the weather is and remember there's nothing on my calendar for today. I sleep again until almost noon -- perhaps 11: 47a -- and wake up, wondering what the weather is and realizing I've slept til noon, again. A massive wave of guilt sweeps through me (learned from my mother).

I take a minute for deep breathing, detaching myself from the mental and emotional quicksand of guilty thinking, moving to a wide open field of clean air and sunshine inside me.

I sleep late because I stay up late and I don't do much during the day. I'm not working hard enough at anything to actually be tired at the end of the day. I go to bed when my body has been awake long enough to need rest.

In the old days, I never smoked cigarettes before noon and I never drank coffee after 3p. These days, I challenge the urge to drink coffee when I get up at noon:  how will I ever get back to a "normal" sleep cycle drinking coffee in the middle of the day?  Every fourth or fifth day, with a spirit of penance, I forego having coffee at noon. I imagine myself "off to a good start."

Soon after arriving in Holly Springs, I began receiving suggestions that "you (I) must meet Chelius." Once the person I was talking to learned what I was interested in and hoped to accomplish in Holly Springs, invariably the response was "You need to meet Chelius."  I imagined a 30-something American African man with dreadlocks and an energetic, colorful way of speaking. I set out to find this man. It took months. In the process I added "mysterious" and "private" to my internal sketch.

We first connected by telephone. He is opening a coffeehouse on the square. I stopped by the site, still under development, having received a tip that he was there. He wasn't there but a workman offered to contact him by cell phone and let me talk to him. He was en route, returning from Oxford within half an hour. I was to meet him at his house, a block up from the coffeehouse.

There's no coffeehouse in Holly Springs. The primary meeting place here is Church. Among the handful (I mean this literally:  I've met fewer than five) of people I've met who are remotely like-minded, the opening of the coffeehouse looms like a life preserver floating just out of reach. We are all desperate for a community gathering space.

It will be called The Smiling Phoenix and is slated to open by mid April.

I finally met Chelius, a short white guy with a straggly beard and gray-ing hair. He's an architect and preservationist with deep, sincere affection and respect for the architectural heritage of Holly Springs and Marshall County. He poured me a drink of bourbon so magically smooth that it has become a staple beverage in my home (Woodford Reserve...heaven in a bottle). We talked about Holly Springs and his projects, my deflated dream for my life in Holly Springs, and ways I could get involved with his projects.

I have consented to work at the coffeehouse. Job description is fluid and flexible (just the way I like it). The building is a 4-minute walk from my house (I like that, too). I am excited and looking forward with imagination. A place to go, a reason to leave the house! And I enjoy hostessing. And I love coffee.

One piece of my initial bright dream idea for Holly Springs was an open-mic series in a space that included exhibit and performance space. Maybe this part of the dream will come true. I am already hearing music and spoken-word at the coffeehouse. I see myself in long, sparkly earrings, serving coffee and then taking the stage to sing; bringing in loaves of fresh-baked artisan bread once a week. Having conversations about the paintings on the wall. Watering the plants.

I'm looking forward to wearing myself out each day and going to bed by 1 a.m. and waking up with the birds, walking through quiet morning streets to the coffeehouse.

I ran into Chelius yesterday at the post office and he invited me to ride down to Oxford with him to pick up his daughter from school. What a treat! The ride, our conversation, and meeting his 4-year-old daughter was a huge pleasurable escape from my usual boredom at the house. By the time we reached Holly Springs, the little girl was asleep in her child seat. At my house, we left her sleeping and sat on the front porch talking for awhile longer. The last thing he said to me was "Well, we didn't talk about the coffeehouse. When can we talk about that?"

"Whenever you like," I responded. "I am here and I'm ready."

I might have offered him some refreshment on the porch, some coffee or bourbon; but it was a little after 3p and it felt too late for one and too early for the other.