photos by smdlr
While Omaria moved to New York to pursue acting, in the months since, she’s found her rhythm instead in the places where she can drop the script. Omaria stepped into Pushcart Coffee that first day prepared to play a part—though she wasn’t much of a coffee drinker, she planned to order an espresso and assume an air of elegant insider knowledge. That’s not how things played out (read Omaria’s own account here). After preparing to wax eloquent about single-origin flavor profiles, Omaria was surprised to find that Jamie and Lisa were more interested in her as a person. “Rather than ‘how do you fit into the shop,’ they asked, ‘how do you fit into life?’” Pushcart, she realized, was a place where she didn’t have to play a part.
In the nine months since her move, Omaria has come into her own as a writer. “I fell in love with the process of creating characters of my own instead of playing other people’s characters…it was more my own, more of who I wanted to be.” When she’s not working, she stakes out a spot in other coffee shops, spaces that she finds open up her creativity. When she first entered Pushcart, she was not a coffee drinker and not at home in coffee shops. Now, they’ve become one place where she can relax into her thoughts and her words, scribbling away in a journal she has titled “A Character’s Creations: Dreams from the Toilet”.
With the acquisition of a label maker, we’ve gone a bit label crazy at Pushcart Coffee—every shelf, jar, and box now bears its own glossy black and white label. One morning as Jamie gleefully spun through the back labeling everything in sight, Omaria, Raf, and I orbited a little too close and ended up labeled as well (Omaria’s said “Writer/ Actor,” Raf’s said “Master Builder” and mine said “Writer”). It made for a funny morning, with customers we see everyday asking about our labels, lingering in conversation across the counter.
Later, Omaria and I discussed how it had felt. It was cool to see how the labels prompted more involved conversations with people we see everyday, but on the other hand, we felt exposed, unsure how much we wanted to share of those inner passions. “It’s nice that people were interested, but I don’t really like to talk about what I’m writing,” Omaria admitted. Sometimes being ourselves means holding a little bit back. Sometimes, just making coffee, chatting with the regulars, performing tasks that are not mentally or emotionally tasking are the perfect counterweight to the work of the mind. That is also who we are.
See Chérmelle’s impressions at smdlr.