I sit by the window. On one of those high bar chairs pulled up to a small wooden table. People come and go around me. It is 10:03 a.m. The pre noon sun is streaming through the window; I can feel its heat on the right side of my face. The coffee shop is cool and clean, very modern-hip. Its sharp design doesn’t seem to belong on this block, this merging of cultures; this intersection where Chinatown and the Downtown Eastside collide. I love this borough of misfits and changing atmospheres, it makes for fascinating people watching if you’re into that. I am not usually, but lately I have found myself more and more fascinated with the goings on of those around me.
I have nowhere to be on this sunny February morning, and as I sit in the sun, sipping a strong cup of black coffee, I find myself wondering where the others around me are rushing off too; what their stories are. The bearded young man at the table next to mine who talks to himself as he works. The two women huddled in the corner over their Mac, earnestly discussing something. The middle aged man with a long ponytail who sits alone at the board table reading a chunky book. I think its Dickens, but my eyes cant quite make out the cover. And then there is the constant flow of caffeine seekers who come and go, but never stop to sit. Many of them are dressed in business clothes, and carry brief cases. A few stop to chat with the barista, they obviously frequent this haven often. When the traffic slows my eyes wander out the window to the street. This block is the very edge of Chinatown, and almost every sign is written in characters. Red and yellow dominate the colour scheme. Even the curves in the architecture give away the roots of its design. I know this area very well, I know exactly what I will find a few blocks in any of the directions on a compass. I love these streets, and the diversity that a few blocks can encompass. I could spend years here, and still only know a fraction of the stories this neighbourhood has to tell. That mystery, that opportunity, perhaps, is what draws me back here again and again. I want to know more.
I sit by the window, looking out into the street. People come and go. It is 11:03 a.m.