The cafe was closed

The wind was howling in the streets. The winter sun didn’t provide much warmth. Wrapped in layers of clothes, I could feel the wind penetrating my winter coat and wool sweater. The weather forecast set on my phone showed minus twelve with strong southwest wind.

I tried to push the door open, it was locked. I knocked on the door, no one answered. The cafe was closed. I had been longing to cuddle up on that Baroque style sofa covered with velvet in purple. I had been longing to get myself lost in some passing, incoherent thoughts, smelling freshly brewed Americano and cinnamon buns and hearing some nice pieces of Jazz. I had been longing to feel the charm of Australian accent.

When was I here last time, two years ago? Or three? I ordered a cup of tea and got a hot mug of Earl Grey with soy milk. My eyes rested on the greyish mug while the mind was wandering about miles away. Waiting for someone to turn up could be a very sweet experience. I glanced at the doorway every time someone pushed the door open. Sounded stupied but I couldn’t help it. I put a book before me, pretending to be reading.

Wishing I was mistaken, I returned to the cafe a few hours later. Perhaps they had just changed the opening hours. I pushed the front door and then the door on the left side of the building. I recognised the lanterns placed just beside the windows. You might find lanterns with a similar style  in Morocco. The doors were locked.

“The cafe remains closed in the winter months”, a middle-aged woman told me as she passed by. I nodded to her in acknowledgement.

I wasn’t upset, but there was a feeling of emptiness I couldn´t shake off.

I wandered around the old town, trying to figure out something. It must be some cafe where I could have a cup of tea and recall some memories, just to check it they’re still traceable. Even the most precious memories tend to fade away if you place them in a dark corner of your heart and never return to them. They would loose their vibrant colour and intensity. It’s like a film that has lost some essential parts – conversations, mood, intimacy and tension. Only the main characters remain. Pale and motionless.

All the tables in the cafe were occupied when I entered the room. The waitress showed me a passage leading the way to the kitche. A small round wooden table was placed in the corner of the passage, and framed old wedding pictures were displayed on a side table. I pulled out a chair and sat down, feeling very much at ease.

On my journal I began noting some words and sentences. They should help me put images and fragments og memories in order. But these images and fragments from different periods and locations were all mixed up. A pint of Guiness at The Dubliner, the fresh, salty smell of the ocean, the snowy night, the glowing light in a downtown cafe, these scenes appeared and then vanished in no time. Trying to grasp them seemed useless. I felt the fear that a significant part of me was fading away.

The clock on the wall read 6 p.m. The waitress was clearing the tables. I could hear the noise made by the dish washer in the kitchen. I gathered the notes and put on my coat. I glanced at the blackboard on the wall when passing the front desk. Americano was on the list.

The ferry was leaving in 15 minutes. No hurry. The snowflakes flying lightly in the empty streets, the lights glowing outside the closed shops. A wave of nostalgia.

Then that autumn afternoon returned, vivid and intense. I rested my eyes on the greyish mug before me, the heart filled with tenderness. On the other side of the table, a coffee had been served. Americano. I knew it, with all my heart.

 

(Pictures taken on Saturday, 24 February 2018 in Fredrikstad, Norway)

Author: Isabelle

Content writer / editor & Language advisor

53 thoughts on “The cafe was closed”

  1. The view of the street and the water have inspired scene ideas for my current work-in-progerss. They are so empty, so clean, and so full of story potential. Your musings have a dream-like quality, as though you drift through your thoughts and down the sidewalks, that leave me full of curiosity. You take readers on a little journey, lending them your perspective, and describe what you see and feel with memories that only you understand. It is a singular experience. Do you know what the Hygge Lykke in the fourth photo is?

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    1. It was excellent observation and interpretation, thank you. Some images and pieces of thoughts are put together to creating a scene.
      Good you caught the lovely word “hygge”, the Norwegian expression for a quality of cosiness, feeling warm and comfortable. It is a widely used expression in Norway and it has spread to other countries I have heard. “Lykke” means “happiness”, “cheerfulness”, “brightness”. It can also convey other related meanings.

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  2. Oh Isabelle, this is just lovely and so soulful. ❤️ It has such a gentle flow and the pictures reinforce every thought. The soft light at the tables, the empty chairs, the empty streets, your choice of books. Something is missing in all the places and in the spaces between the words. But in it all is a subtle hint of deep presence. It’s beautiful and carries my own thoughts away. Thank you, suzanne😊❤️

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    1. Thank you for the thoughtful words Suzanne ❤️ I struggled quite a bit with this post. You put it perfectly, something is missing in all the places and in the places between the words. I was struggling to find a balance. Explicit v.s implicit, how and when. Hope it doesn’t affect the coherence of the text. Fredrikstad (featured) is a city not far from Oslo. We spent the last weekend there. It was lovely to have a few hours for myself, wandering in the old town and collecting the thoughts. Love the nostalgia in every corner. You caught the subtle hints and deep emotions. Thank you. Take care, Suzanne 😊❤️

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      1. I think maybe the writing we struggle with the most is because it’s so deep and true. I have struggled with this comment, thinking about your own words for over a day now. We stop and wonder how do we put those feelings in mere words. But, you’ve done that here beautifully. I found the text to have a very easy flow complemented by your photos. I could feel the missing and the wondering. Fredrikstad is a charming place. It must have been awfully nice to have that time to yourself. Isn’t it something how a place or a song or even a sky can transport us to somewhere else altogether and it can be lovely or sad or both at the same time. Yes…love in every corner. Take care Isabelle 😊❤️

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      2. Oh thank you Suzanne for taking time to think and then give me such a lovely and comprehensive comment. “Because it’s so deep and true”, I couldn’t put it in a better way myself. Yes sometimes a little thing can transport us to somewhere else, to make us drown in our thoughts. It can be sad and lovely at the same time. But isn’t it the beauty in it, being sad and lovely at the same time. Fredrikstad isn’t far from Oslo where I live. It’s a place which means something. Yes it does. Take care Suzanne. And thank you 😊❤️

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      3. Oh yes…there is definite beauty in having the sad and lovely come together in the same moment. Even now your sweet comments bring a tear to my eye while I write here in the morning quiet and the rain falls gently outside. I’m so happy to know you Isabelle. Thank you for sharing with me. Take care 😊❤️

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      4. Thank you Suzanne. As I’m reading through your words, the eyes full of tears, and the heart full of gratitude. I can sense the quiet morning, the gentle rainfalls, and the silence. It’s so lovely, so peaceful. The same, Suzanne. It’s a gift to know you. Take care 😊❤️

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  3. The captures warmed my heart, Isabelle. They were perfectly complimenting your beautiful words♥️ I could feel the uneasiness in the protagonist’s mind about a memory. At the same time the comforting feel of familiarity and warm place ♥️

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    1. Thank you so much for the kind and thoughtful words! This post is not among the most explicit ones. It means so much to me that you caught the feelings. It is all what the post is about I think. 😊❤️

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    1. Thank you so much Neil. I hope you can sense it – how much I appreciate your words. The old town in Fredrikstad is a lovely place, perfect for someone who finds nostalgia irresistible. Like me.

      Take care,

      Isabelle

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    1. Thank you so much for letting me know it. I had a long walk that evening, got lost. But I got all these lovely images in return.
      I enjoyed reading your poems and texts. Deep and sophisticated. Drowned in my thoughts, many times. Take care.

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    1. It was pretty cold that evening, minus 6-7. But it was so beautiful when I was walking alone the harbour, the moon bright, shining, the sky dark blue, couldn’t resist the temptation of taking these pictures. Having a cup of tea or coffee in an old cafe, reading a good book. Such a treat.

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  4. I remember Oslo from years ago, sitting upon a high hill, people scurrying about in the strange light of July at 11PM. And also the west coast, wandering alone down it, doing similar things, looking for cafes, buying a sweater. One time, even a sea captain offered me a job had I but to arrive next morning at the harbor 7AM — then off to sea, who knows what? A different lifepath that would have been for sure. 🙂

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    1. I probably would have accepted the offer from the captain. Such a great thing to break the routines. I am quite settled here, I bet my life would have looked differently if I was not. A free soul wandering in different parts of the world. Personally I think Oslo is at its best in summer. The climate pleasant, the sun does not go down until late evening, green parks everywhere. Thank you for writing to me.
      Much appreciated. 😊

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  5. Oh, this gave me goosebumps for some reason. It made me think of the possibilities of a moment or a meeting perhaps.
    In this day and age, I too find it hard to concentrate on my thoughts – more and more, in fact. Whenever I get a moment to really breathe, my to-do list starts running through my mind. Sigh…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It shouldn’t be a surprise given that we live in this fast-paced world – the overflow of information, the commitments, the constant feeling of catch-up. Running and yoga is my way of having a timeout. It works. I read whenever I’ve got a chance, I need to withdraw myself from the world regularly. Reading is the best way 😊 Take care ❣️

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  6. You have told a story here with pictures and well chosen words. I love the flip-over of the events. As I was reading I thought that building looks very Norwegian and it reminds me of Gamlebyen in Fredrikstad. I was pleasantly surprised to see that my memory was correct when I got to the end of the post. I was there at a similar time about 11 years ago, and it was around the same temperatures then. It is a wonderful place to stroll around, summer or winter. I loved it! Do you live in Fredrikstad?

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    1. Thank you for the lovely comment! We live in Oslo which is about 1 1/2 hours drive to Fredrikstad. It was winter break in Norway last week so we spent a few days in Fredrikstad. Have been there quite a few times now. Many good memories. Oh yes it’s a nice place and I love Gamlebyen. Wandering back in time. Pleasant and relaxed. Great to hear that you recognised Gamlebyen from the pictures after so many years. It must have made a good impression. Thank you!

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      1. Lovely. Living si close, you can pop down to beautiful Fredrikstad any time you like!! It is a favorite place of mine but then Norway had so many special places. I look forward to reading about more of your travels in that beautiful country.

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      2. Thank you so much! It’s still very cold in Norway and it’s been snowing for weeks. I look forward to spring, really. It’s so lovely having a stroll in the parks when the colour turns green. 😊🍀🌸

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  7. You have a rich imagination, Isabelle! That is a good thing for a blogger to have. I think this might be Gamle By in Fredrikstad. Again, I have to thank you for reviving my memories of that place and time many years ago.

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    1. Yes it’s Gamlebyen in Fredrikstad. An old friend lives there. It was beautiful that night, with snow falling down quietly and lightly. The perfect moment to recall the past – something precious and magical.

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