Chapter 1. Holborn Grind

04.05.2015 / 11:00

Coming back from Paris on the train, I really didn’t care if the journey took all day. The person I was meeting is one of very few I actually missed. We planned to catch up at a coffee spot on Holborn. Strangely, I've passed by this place thousands of times but never really thought of coming in. It was the corner I always passed by in a rush.

That day I felt as a stranger in London: I kept looking around surprised: why all these people were in such a hurry? Guess, Parisian attitude got into my blood: strolling, not running down the streets; ignoring red lights, smiling to gentlemen wearing hats, never putting my headphones on (because what's the point? city sound can offer the best melody).

Anyway I stepped into Holborn Grind at 12.45 sharp. He was always 15 minutes earlier so I tried to be the one coming first today - just to give myself some time to think. I ordered a coffee that I wouldn't ever drink... Last time we saw each other we talked about new plays at Soho Theatre; Malevich at Tate; the unforgettable smell of Chablis "Non Filtré" Domaine Lavantureux that made you feel like you were standing on a hill facing a mountain lake with your eyes closed, warm wind pushing you into the blade... When I got in my cab I didn’t turn and wave - I didn't know it would be a long time before I see you again.

It's been more than 5 minutes and waitress finally placed my coffee in front of me. I didn't say anything, I didn't need words. After all, I had learnt that very arrogant but useful thing - regard parisienne - Parisian way to say it all avoiding any possibility of getting into conversation.

First sip of my long black turned my thoughts into an opposite direction.

Smooth, strong, with a punch though still sweet, unforgettable and awaking, like good dark chocolate or a first glimpse at the shore after a long time spent in the sea.

I was sitting there, flipping through my new memories from last 8 hours after my train reached London. Some things I had carelessly let myself to forget so it wouldn't hurt that much to leave the town: amusement when strangers smile at you nicely for no reason; evening newspapers left on a train that are naturally passed to new passengers; noise at cafés and all the overheard conversations; waiting in a line to get a table at the restaurant under the rain, randomly meeting your friends at flower market and moving to a food festival together. All those small things. All those attitudes and accidental glances, some memorable, some simply warming your soul at a gloomy day.

Feels great to be awake... Again.

- Welcome back, you look so Parisian now! - He says.

I'm smiling at him. I know he sees in me what he loves the most in this life - the haze of Paris. Me, carrying the very French feeling; him, loving this imperceptible fleur. Distance that still exists in our minds slowly vanishes.

Aloners, by our own choice, we value a dialogue of quality. Something so tiny, so important that it makes you feel strangely alive. We order more coffees and after couple of sips we remain silent - paying our courtesy to a cup of great drink. We talk about changes we've noticed in each other. I tell him how much I love tiny balconies and the sound of my heels on paving stones of Palais Royal; about my tiredness and fascination; about the dream leading me to a new job... He tells me about days spent working on a dissertation, living on coffees, latest gossips from uni, some beautiful memories about exhibitions I've missed. But mostly we are staring at each other like it's been forever. And then comes time to leave, to dive in back into London's fuss. We are ordering our third coffee to go and quietly leave the Grind.

I have to do this journey one more time,

Just to keep you and this feeling on my mind.

photos from instagrams of @holborngrind @dariamingaraeva @nabilaliffi @jadasezer

Holborn Grind

199 High Holborn, London, WC1V 7BD

Monday - Tuesday 7am – 11.30pm

Friday 7am – Midnight

Saturday 9am - Midnight

Sunday 9am - 7pm

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