Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, 30 Parke St., Katoomba, NSW
Here are four and a half reasons to visit:
1. It’s great for both a quiet catch up and “coffice” work.
2. It has a well-lit, wide open space. Good food. Fresh air. Fine coffee. A touch of art.
3. Correction to the above: The air is cleaner there, purer—perhaps even morally so—than in the metropolis, and the light from the sun—which many people take for granted but I find vital (and often lacking) in the cafe experience—is delicate enough to slip into your mind and do things there, good things, still things, stilling things, and yet also move you in your inner insides.
4. Addendum to the above correction: There is real art there. A genuine exhibition space is next door. Face it, most art in cafés is bullshit decoration.
4 ½. I put one foot in front of the other, which I have done for several consecutive years much in the same way as most humans have done, and indeed, much in the same way as many of the humans who were moving up the same hill as I was at that moment, yet in so doing I moved up this hill at a slightly incongruous pace to many of those humans who were not me and were, in many ways, mostly unlike me. And I thought thoughts. I thought about why I was thinking. No, more accurately, I was thinking about why I was feeling tired after a full night’s sleep. I felt that here was an imbalance in my body, in that my left side was somehow more encumbered than my right, and the duffle bag with my laptop inside that hung from my left shoulder did not reasonably, at least to my mind at the time, seem to be the due cause, so much so that I, or my mind, refused to shift the bag from my left shoulder to my right to test this potentiality, even though there was an unknown degree of chance that it might have given my unfairly stiff body a quick impulse of freedom, which might in turn have then shamed my mind into a resentful silence, an opportune dullness, a numbness, and, in such a moment, I might have then been able to seize the day from the bodily confines of my dullard mortality with a lightning impulse, forging an entirely new consciousness (perhaps), recreating myself anew, so to speak, by tearing my perceived notions of reality to absolute shreds under a mild autumn sunshine that was lighting up the air at approximately one thousand metres above sea level over an asphalt pavement that sloped upwards and made my calves strain to put one foot in front of the other with a slightly greater degree of effort than they had usually done for several consecutive years, thirty-six to be exact; the lazy bastards.
I crossed the street, and stopped thinking. I looked left and right because I did not want to get run over and stop thinking forever. I crossed the street, and started thinking again.
Up a bit further; there it was. My familiar place of business—or keyboard tapping—learning how to use hyphens properly (or Facebook loath-staring). The Mountain View Café. Or Mountain Designs Café? Restaurant, perhaps? I can’t remember the exact words. On the glass door I read words scrawled on a piece of paper. Unfamiliar words. Lease. Closed. Sale. For. Permanent. It was most shocking, that paper; it was paper where there was not meant to be paper.
There is something brave yet cowardly about putting one foot in front of the other. As if it denies and upholds the fool’s fantasy that adventure lurks on the horizon, a pot of gold waiting, delighting, infuriating with possibility, and titillating with risk, a path which we have mightily sworn never to follow yet which tempts us by a deviation of only a few mad steps, steps which our feet, if not always our brains, blithely and wisely ignore.
It was closed and so my feet took me back down the street. I briefly entertained the idea of obeying my now decidedly mismatched body and making up an internal excuse to go home so I could, no, not quit, no, not stop working, no, never would I go back to bed, no, rather, take it slow, work from home. Work my flow. Rejuvenate my mind. My mind. Broken by another morning. Reduced to an ashen pile by incessant pointless thoughts that fart wind and burble fallacious reason in my highly nubile frontal lobes from the instant I resume consciousness and then follow me all day long, yapping at my feet.
A monumental waste of evolutionary nuance is the human brain. The feet, well, they are a different story.
My feet, not my brain, took me to the Gallery Café. And there I have remained. Unmoving. Unmovable. And as monolithic as the Creator-spirit’s gargantuan carvings of stone valleys glistening behind blue mist on the horizon, and near as unreachable. Unspoken to and unspeakable in my laptop-staring mundanity. Well, figuratively speaking. In the context of real space-time, I was there perhaps once or twice a week.
It felt like forever, you see, and that felt right. That’s what you want from a good café.
The Wi-Fi—stolen from the nearby Library—was sporadic, the green tea strong, the murmur of elderly voices full of leathery background-static vigor, the youthful voices expectedly loud then appropriately gone, and the bright light, quickly gray as the day died too fast, shone firmly through the vast curved windows, showing an ostentatiously empty viewing platform which obscured most of the actual view but allowed me to behold a performance of clouds above the sublime horizon, clouds which, despite their best efforts, failed to defeat the very light that brought them to my eyes, to my thoughts, and this tousled meeting of cloud and light every now and then found a note, a tone, a rhythm in line with the silence behind my consciousness, a quiet that transcended evolution, and in so doing sparked in me a violent flood of irrefutable something, a birth, an effluent, a burst of typed text, sporadic and quickly faded, some of which paid my bills, some of which drained my soul, some of which was just lovely, and some of which fulfilled my hateful inner need to achieve something, anything, everything, a need which drove me from my bed each morning by propelling my one foot to go in front of the other so that from the dying hue of this spark’s embers, amid a weird convergence of cloud, light, café, feet, air, and brain, on the odd occasion, usually right after two in the afternoon, I was subsumed and lost until my brain was totally sublimated into putting its own feet, one, then the other, in front of one, then the other, until my mind hit its stride, at the Gallery Cafe.
Oh, yes, and there’s a power point behind a table by the entrance. It’s just under a large TV that is never turned on.