075:365 Sweetwater’s on a Snowy Spring Morning

075:365 Sweetwater's on a Snowy Spring Day

This morning, I decided to stop by at Sweetwater’s Cafe in Kerrytown to have a coffee and a croissant. Getting out on the town every once in awhile is nice. People to watch, things to see.

075:365 Sweetwater's on a Snowy Spring Day

But, today was one better. Just as I finished drawing my coffee cup on the beautiful coffee table, someone I knew when I last lived in Ann Arbor came in, and we got to chat a little. She is in residency and has been very busy. She was going to the Farmer’s Market with her family. Incidentally, she shares my initials, AW!

There were lots of people there.

Before I ran into AW, there was a couple sitting in the big chairs next to me. They were talking about food and organizing when they would meet for lunch and who would bring a sandwich to their son. At least I think the absent party was their son. I gathered from their conversation that the woman is in real estate, and the man in some kind of financial business. They kept dropping words like “what’s the role of the blah blah blah,” and “well, we looked at the P and L and the blah blah blah….”
The man reminded me of John Malkovich, sort of mild-mannered and kind, but a little bit pushy underneath. He didn’t really resemble Mr. Malkovich, but had a similar smile.

In person John Malkovich is much nicer than the characters he usually gets cast into. He always seems to play slightly nefarious and annoying bad guys. But in person, he is very nice. He used to shop at the store I worked at in Chicago. He was launching a clothing line and I was the only employee who had experience with costume renderings, so I helped him with paper, watercolors, and pencils, even though they weren’t my official milieu at the store.

In the fourth chair was a man who might have been homeless, he looked like he was falling asleep and he didn’t buy anything. I don’t really know. But the well-to-do couple didn’t buy anything from Sweetwater’s either. They brought in stuff from Starbucks, and bought a sandwich from one of the Kerrytown shops.

Anyway, the man in the fourth chair noticed when I finished my drawing, and asked if what I was drawing with was just crayons. I started to explain to him that they were oil pastels, and that I use them because I work with kids and they’re a good compromise between painterly messiness and crayons that are to hard to make bright bold colors unless you press very hard.

He didn’t really say anything else, but I realized he wasn’t half-asleep. One of his eyes seemed to be permanently closed. I let him look at my sketchbook and feel the texture of the pastels.

The woman asked to see my sketchbook too. I don’t think she’d noticed that I was drawing until the man in the fourth chair asked about the pastels. Then she and the man gave me the third degree about being an artist.

After that couple left, and my friend went off to the Farmer’s Market, a younger couple, maybe a year or two older than me, maybe even younger than me, replaced the older couple. They didn’t want to be social and pulled their chairs closer together, keeping me and the fourth-chair-man out of their conversation.

I guess the man in the fourth chair decided it was time to go. The couple made me feel awkward, but they kept glancing at him like he was going to steal their bags or something. But I didn’t get his story. I don’t know.

Beyond my table, I saw some of the people I now recognize as “regulars” cycling through. I don’t know any of them, but I’ve seen them there on other Saturday mornings.

During the week, Sweetwater’s is full of students from Community High, and their teachers. It’s amazing how different places feel different when there are different people.

Faborit was sort of like that too. During the week at lunchtime, it felt like a busy corporate cafeteria in Chicago. But on the weekends, when it was full of international students, families, and people reading the paper, it felt like an entirely different place. And at night, people wearing trendy clothes sipped iced drinks in mood lighting, while couples meandered in to continue flirtatious chatting.

The ERC on State Street is always full of students with books and laptops, but the ERC on Main Street is more often full of business people during the day and small groups of professionals and families in the evening. They sometimes have live music.

Location means a lot, but so does the hour. Time and Place.

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