Aromas Coffeehouse

Omaha, Nebraska

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It took me about 18 hours to find my spot to sit in Omaha. Lets call it my Loggia dei Lanzi of Omaha. Although I didn’t end up sitting at the corner of 11th and Howard for ten hours without food and water for fear of losing my spot it did act as a brick magnet that drew me from the blank and rank corners of the city (try 10th and Abbott) when I needed to feed on human flesh (visually).

In fact I not only watched people but engaged them in methods as dry as the charade of old market felt. One passer-by, watching me draw on a little 4″x6″ postcard brought me a large sheet of paper. I told him I didn’t need it and that this was my preferred substrate. He said he was an art teacher and that it was ingrained in him. He seemed to also be a sidewalk caricaturist who, after he had offered me the paper, ventured across the street to jaw up the band with the saw player and was replaced by someone who seemed to have some mental issues evidenced by his barking, literally, at passers by, fortunately leaving me alone.

Aromas Coffeehouse

The beer I had at Julio’s before hitting the bricks began to creep up on me, and not wanting to patronize another business that evening, I wandered south to take a leak between the steel beams under a bridge, passing a couple that saw me heading down the dirt embankment and made eye contact with me as I disappeared.

Aromas Coffeehouse

It was dusk when I returned to my spot, and after sitting just a moment, the couple who had seen me sneak below the bridge passed by. I have previously tested in other cities a hobby of following couples around (most excitingly following a doomed American tourist girl around the 4th arrondissement with Thos. and Vidal) and decided to follow this couple. I find it more titillating to follow people who I know have seen me already. They headed west down Howard and then took a left at 12th before going into the iced cream shop there. I stood in the twilight behind a dumpster at the curb while the streetlights came up. When they came out they headed back east up Jackson, toward where I had seen them from under the bridge. I went the other way up 12th and hustled through the alley parallel to Jackson to cut them off at 11th. When I came up 11th they were turning south from Jackson and saw me crossing the road, positioned just ahead of me, and as if sensing my hesitancy to overtake them they stopped to fumble around for something in the girl’s bag. I can only assume it was pepper spray, so I just kept walking straight down to Aromas, which I had seen that morning, along with the area under the bridge, when making an 8 mile circle around the CBD on foot.

Aromas Coffeehouse

Frustrated by the fools in front of me ordering something off of the Starbucks menu I stepped back out onto the street. The couple was gone, most likely at the Omaha Police Department over by my hotel, so I went back in and ordered a tea. In the deep part of the shop, far from the windows, trying to pay attention to the fact that I was somewhere new but feeling cheated out of the remainder of the evening by my stalking cut short, I took out the postcard I had drawn at my corner and painted listless and uninspired documentation of the midwest chiaroscuro that brick buildings soak up out here.

Aromas Coffeehouse

As the place cleared out I ended up moving to a couch that I sank into and read a bunch of ‘Austerlitz,’ as usual wanting to be one of Sebald’s disembodied ghostly ‘Is,’ but obviously, from my bumbled chase, too corporeal to really meander the city like a dream or a memory. But the more I read the more I felt like I was not there, and not where I was by choice, but feeling like I didn’t know where I was, or why I had ended up there, or why I felt like I couldn’t leave. The feeling was incredibly distracting and I left without taking a single picture, and vowing to return the next morning, which I did not do, instead hitting Caffeine Dreams before fleeing to Lincoln… came back in the afternoon, after hitting Jackson St Books, looked in the window but did not enter and went back to to Howard and 11th to wait in the twilight for some more squares to freak out that could lure me back to Aromas.

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Aromas Coffeehouse

1033 Jones St
Omaha, Nebraska 68102

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