The worst place to be when you’re a writer on deadline is anywhere full of distractions, particularly when you’re carving a piece of work that isn’t your baby. This is not to say that every piece one writes isn’t a ‘child’ of its creator, but to say that for better or for worse, we handle our favorite children with a very different kind of care.
I have given myself three days to finish a proposal I’m at work on, and some significant progress on three client projects. But when I woke up this morning I wasn’t there. I needed an extra jump. On most days making breakfast or push ups or the right warm-ups in social media would have been enough. But today was a different kind of animal. Today I needed something special.
Being as that I’m in the land of my birth for a few days there might be no better spark than The Florida Avenue Grill off of U Street, or the Panera Bread up in Columbia Heights. With either of these I would have known what I was dealing with. But I decided to be all artsy and -ish. So I went with the Busboys and Poets off of U Street.
Busboys and Poets has done to the traditional coffee shop/poetry house what Chipotle has done to the Mexican grill. While I’m not one to argue that an excellent floor design (with original art on the walls) and a menu that’s pretty damn good is in any way an abomination to the arts community, but I guess I remember when you couldn’t find an investor in the world willing to part with their cash for an endeavor this huge and eclectic. And now there are like TEN of them in a 20 mile radius. Go figure. Live long enough and you’ll see anything.
When I come to spots like this I’m just looking for a start, a spark, an event, a conversation, the right link to hit on a webpage, something which shifts the creative transmission from ‘park’ to ‘drive’. An aspiring writer (or grad student) with the fairest of complexions (and the reddest of afros) plans her words and phrases before typing them down. Salsa plays out the loudspeaker, the alto of the trumpets reminding me of a kiss and a night in Acapulco when a drunk Black mexican, decked out in both sombrero and poncho, introduced himself to me on a beach.
“You never seen a Black Mexican. But we’re here.”
Here, but not here. Some things remain consistent across the Diaspora.
And just that simply, the gear has shifted.
I had Shrimp and grits with diced asparagus, corn and tomato. They can’t top the shrimp and grits at Eatonville up the street. But for a lil’ something to set the mood, as the chatter rises and the cash registers rumble and two young gay brothers discuss lies and truths as if there aren’t people flanked within inches of them on all sides, it’s enough to keep the gears turning.