My friend Lawrence was the person who introduced me to Brazil coffee house. Lawrence was a classmate who I socialized with in the smoker section and then the coffee house. The coffee house was tiny and cozy, a little smoky, a little crowded; it felt like an apartment. There was a small raised stage and a big bookcase filled with literature and games. I loved the music that was playing on their stereo. The coffee house was what that sixteen year old girl, who loved being social, listening to new music, learning something new, playing a card game, and enjoying beverages in a setting that was made for her style and idealism helped create a safe space, she was looking for.
Brazil is my first experience at a coffee house or a coffee shop that was not the national chain franchise and I love everything about it. I started drinking different flavored coffees, explored specialty coffee drinks; I had my first iced coffee there. It took years to find someone to make it as awesome as I remember. I was introduced to chocolate covered coffee beans, pastries, and I adored their create your own sandwich. For my second visit I made sure that my best friend Darcy was with me. We did everything together. We shared a love for Brazil and the art community. I loved coworking on coffee house posters with her. Another art project I remember but I wasn't able to take advantage of getting a custom art t-shirt with the Brazil Coffee House logo. There was a financial barrier and I wish I had made some sort of arrangement to one done by my best friend.
It was usually the high school students that were in any of the arts programs, and former arts kids (in college or being an adult) that typically hung out at Brazil. Brazil hosted live music nights, open mic nights, stand-up, and art exhibits of local youth talents. There were times where I was able to sit and collaborate on a difficult story that I wanted to share; I wasn't able to express all the feelings and the words weren't coming out until I discussed it with a peer, so I was able to create a piece that won me a scholarship.
I wanted to say I fell in love three times but the truth is it's three attachments. I had three attachments while I was a regular at Brazil coffee house. The first attachment was with my boy best friend. We spent every school day together, approximately 3 to 4 hours a day together, each and everyday, and I fell in love with him, I became attached to him. A few occasions he made it clear that I was not his type and just a friend and I was okay with that. I was happy that he was my best friend. It was difficult with him, the mixed messages then he put me down when I tried to open up to him. He would walk away from me when I needed him the most or when I would do the right thing for me (like when I was transferring schools).
The next attachment was during the summer of ‘97, a guitarist paid attention to me and his flirtatious encounters were infatuating. I asked him to be my replacement date to my sister's wedding. We had a wonderful time at the wedding and we had an amazing follow-up date at Brazil where I was his lucky charm and he finally beat the owner at a game of chess. At the end of the summer he moved back to Toronto and I moved on with my narcissistic abuser.
My last attachment was Claire. I met them probably about a month before the closure of the coffee house. They was there for me on a day where my abuser publicly humiliated me and they wrapped me with kindness and warmth in a sweet friendship. Their face is one of the last faces I remember in Brazil on the last day I was there. I can scan the room and still see each of them. I can hear Vicky play Foolish Games by Jewel on the piano. It's the most beautiful edition of Foolish Games I've ever heard.
It breaks my heart knowing now that it was my safe space from home lives. I had a very bad time once the coffee house was gone, I was isolated more and more by my narcissistic abuser. To the point that I missed my own prom because he's constantly standing me up and/or ruining things while we’re out together. I went home and cried. Then guilt kicked in because I bought that dress myself, with my own money that I learned myself. That dress because I wanted it to be a special occasion and its purpose was never fulfilled. Just like that writing scholarship, I never pursued that once we broke up and the realization of the abuses became clear after the fog had lifted.