i end up here on sunday mornings. the place does not change in the months between. sometimes i feel that i recognize people whom i do not know. i do not live nearby. the interstate motel has been converted into condos up on the precipice overlooking the highway and the service court of the convention center, a broad blank wall. when i arrived at the motel, late at night, i would rap on the thick glass at the counter to awaken the disoriented old man who i could see asleep on a cot just beneath the desk. he slept atop the blankets. he would pull his watch cap off of his eyes, and proceed to write in ball point pen, a very rigid old man cuneiform upon yellow carbon paper.
i have never been here of an evening. evening coffee is a different affair, one that warrants claustrophobic ceilings, clutter, dim lights, and no food service. clattering plates and kitchensounds fail to promote the proper atmosphere.
on sunday morning, early enough, one can claim a spot in the upper seating area where the large window upon the street admits a low southern winter sun that reaches almost to the back of the space. in its passage, the dust of the old space, propelled up, by sitting on torn vinyl upholstery, in intrusive swirls, radiates back out into the dim lower seating area. a man with long hair, pulled back, or possibly falling periodically to catch on his eyebrow or goatee, plays an acoustic guitar in the classical manner, a continuous tinkling smoothness that forms no apparent phrases or bodies. he was there before, and before. i saw him on the street saturday, carrying his case, his silk shirt billowing in the cold, stark sunlight, avoiding the shadow cast onto the south side of broadway by the bank, the whitewashed brick wall of the cafe in sunlight.
the dust forms a space for me in the sunlight and patrons pass back and forth to the lower seating area. two women, in jeans, have come to complain about their husbands and friends. they sit at a table at the foot of the stairs and prattle loudly over the guitar. a woman, surrounded by grocery bags, and stacks of palimpsestic scrap paper, talks loudly into a broken cellphone, and speaks as she writes nonsense over nonsense. i wish that my dusty room had some acoustic properties, or that all of the patrons were part of the deaf chat coffee group, signing, casting animate shadows on the north wall, and allowing me to follow the notes. the man playing the guitar stares into space, or closes his eyes, listens to his guitar. his fluid playing unhampered by structure or pace, could have been the same as it was the previous sunday, months earlier. it would be impossible to tell. only the patrons wander in and out. the dust, after four pm, after the baristas go home, every sunday, settles back into the torn vinyl and the curtains, pulled shut over the large window, or settles into my lungs, or the hairs in my nostrils, transported by car, to some other cafe, where i give it back to the space who awaits tidings from asheville.
Beanstreets Coffeehouse3 Broadway Street
Asheville, North Carolina 28801