Bibi Deitz on Secret Writing Spots
There’s this cafe where I go to write. It’s attached to a hotel, the front part of a restaurant with a bar between the two. Thin linen curtains block extraneous sun and sentries in blue suits and red striped ties prowl the place in search of stray napkins, empty plates. I drink macchiatos. Like anything, my tolerance has increased with time: Two does what one used to. They are served in thick shot glasses, puffs of foam atop creamy espresso like clouds. At six sharp the maître d’ flits around with votives in brass holders, five-pointed flowers cut from the curved metal like tiny ports. Soon after the scent of rioja and bordeaux mingles with the smell of perfume: sandalwood, bergamot, rose. Daytime everyone has laptops on the silver tables. Every now and then the sound of a cocktail shaker interrupts the quiet. Men in suits make deals over beers; bearded men in plaid shirts take business lunches with whiskey.
I was introduced to the cafe by a writer friend when I first moved back to New York. I was staying nearby and would come every afternoon to write. This was back when it first opened and I’d have the full lounge to myself for hours. The word’s out now; but still I can always find a table.
Day and night a golden fireplace glimmers, the best facsimile I’ve ever seen. It could be real until you get up close. Two crystal balls hover below the mantle. Nighttime they lower the lights and everyone’s face glows. I wonder if the fireplace runs around the clock. I want to stay here, creep downstairs at four in the morning in a white robe and sit on one of the leather couches before the hearth, order a hot chocolate. New York dreams: usually possible.
I like to sit in the corner. I like to order a carafe of sparkling water, which comes in a flask of blown blue glass. I sip it all afternoon, sneak cashews from the pockets of my jeans. I’ve been known to rocketship here. Rocketshipping: The delicious feeling of over-caffeination.
By seven it heats up, eight it’s crazy. Sometimes I retire to the dining room for a burger but usually not. It’s a daytime establishment, far as I’m concerned. A venue to write. It’s fun to watch people pour in from the cold, wrapped in wool coats, faces freshly washed, clean fingers, open hearts. When emergency vehicles flash by, the room flickers red as though there were a massive digital fire on the street.
It’s precious, this. To have a cafe at which you can sit from day till well past dusk without being hassled.
When I lived in Santa Fe, I lamented the lack of places like this until Iconik opened. Now I miss that spot, even living in New York. This city needs an Iconik. For now, though, I am quite pleased with this cafe, which shall remain unnamed. In a city like this, such establishments must, lest their popularity eventually outshine their accommodation.
Where do you write in your city or town?
Bibi Deitz lives and writes in Brooklyn. Recent work has appeared in Vice, Bookforum, The Rumpus, Berfrois, Queen’s Mob’s Teahouse and BOMB.