Java Cat Coffeehouse

Emporia, Kansas

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One year ago if someone said Chase County to me I’d’ve shrugged. If they said Chase County, Kansas I’d’ve been thrown down into the depressive chasm that is the state of Kansas and its physical role in separating me from my spiritual home in Eugene.

I wouldn’t say that I am now too far off of that suite of responses, though I know where exactly it is, and via the hours reading PrairyErth, hiking through the tall grass, taking my students there at 4am to watch the sun rise, buying candy in neighboring Council Grove, and driving to and from in the dark rolling dead Kansas nighttime, I have some context, and enough to know that as special as it indeed is, it is not special at all. How many places on Earth are special simply because they are of their pure geography, existing nowhere else, and by that I mean of course, special simply because there isn’t a Lowe’s or Kroger built on their scraped mutability?

Java Cat Cafe

And I know Emporia isn’t in Chase County. Though its downtown is of that one-on-of-a-kind ilk, like anywhere that could be described with a straight face as a ‘place’, like all Midwestern Main Streets have in the sunlit and melancholy passed-by moments they open their few remaining unboarded doors to locals and gawkers. Though commonplace, in those moments I find the places that I am in to be utterly singular.

Java Cat Cafe

In a little coffee shop in Emporia the sun shows through the front windows. I eat a bagel off of a flat plastic board. I hiked eight miles in the grass, through whirls of summer crickets. Emporians, who in appearance would coffee-up at QT in Lawrence or Cumming, waddle in, and are dispensed Torani-flooded beverages in clear plastic cups. The music is 80s new wave, a Depeche Mode internet radio station, maybe.

Java Cat Cafe

It boggles the mind how many of these little places exist. My Dad always talks about the overwhelming thought of people out in restaurants all over the world. As I sat in Java Cat someone sat in Black Sheep in Sioux Falls, in that place I want to go out on the Oklahoma panhandle in Guymon or something, in that wretched place Get Real in Green River, not to mention all the Loto cafes in Paris (“Les enfants!!”), the little mint tea stations or whatever in the middle east, not to mention Full City in Eugene (sigh), my precious Dr. Bombay’s Underwater Tea Party, or even La Prima Tazza back in Lawrence.

Java Cat Cafe

It made me feel the way I do when, sitting in half light in my chair I begin to visualize that at that very second the bottom of the ocean is in desolate blackness, bitterly cold and lonely, and a creature does all that it can, that its whole being is toward, that it exists solely to not be crushed by the weight of the ocean upon it. At this moment that little creature scuttles through the darkness and my sphincter tightens at the horror of all that is cosynchronous with my existence in one, let’s be honest, unremarkable point on Earth. At this moment a bison presses down the tall grass to sleep. Such wonders aside, it sucks that the place, Java Cat, shares its space with Emporia Realty Group. At least put up a curtain.

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Java Cat Coffeehouse

608 Commercial St
Emporia, Kansas 66801

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