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)