"Cafe Replika", 27" x 50”, $2800
It's funny what you miss.
A couple of mornings a year I find myself sitting in a Montreal café on Rachel, east of the mountain.
I usually arrive early when the café is empty.
On this winter morning, after setting my knapsack beside a grey metal table, I go to the cash.
I greet the plaid shirted barista in French.
He is anglophone.
I ask for a turquoise mug.
He turns his back and looks at the open shelf of mugs. His hand hovers, uncertain, and then reaches for a grey one.
He is young and bewildered by my specifics.
I get it.
I sit down on an old stackable chair with a plywood seat.
These chairs remind me of elementary school assemblies in the gymnasium.
I return to my table and unzip my bag and pull out my favourite pen and my journal.
There is little movement on the street. Montrealers emerge slowly on a Sunday morning.
Fifteen minutes later my partner Jake arrives, pink cheeks. His glasses are foggy coming into the cafe, and he carries a hefty NYTimes in his bare hands. If it is free Jake usually heads for the green velvet couch across the room from me.
Jake unzips his black parka and removes his glasses, shaking them and squinting at the blackboard above the cash. He considers various options.
I look at my lined notebook, knowing he will order the spinach feta pastry.
I hope Café Replika survives Covid.
These soul spots make my world turn.
(Disclosure: the tile floor here is stolen from a crunchy café called Boulenc in Oaxaca that makes me equally happy)