Travelling with Midget involves talking about art galleries, museums and great places of historical merit… and going out for coffee.
Cappuccino for me, and a black coffee and a panini for Midget while Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe smile down from the walls. The waitress, an Ellie Goulding fan, leans across the counter, going through YouTube, creating a playlist to accompany her shift. Obviously her laptop’s more interesting than yet more boring tourists. I still try to thank her for our breakfast. But unfortunately, although I’m saying what I think is the Slovakian for thank you – dakujem – she has no idea what I’m trying to say. Confusion occurs. Understandably Midget is embarrassed. We haven’t yet travelled long enough for her to get used to my atrocious attempts at languages.
Later, we splash out on two iced coffees and, feeling daring, I go one step further and delight in a savoury cupcake with poppy seeds.
At a nearby table, a young woman leans forward. There’s such an absence of self doubt in her person that I can’t help but be intrigued. She has a philosophy on work and her companion is going to calmly listen to and agree with what she has to say. I am certain he is incapable of any other option. While they speak in English, neither of them sound like they speak it as a first language. This makes for an even more entertaining back and forth. Bless the companion, he tries. However, the woman insists that her colleagues aren’t committed enough. We hear how they don’t demonstrate the right attitude. Furthermore, these incompetent and lazy dancers are affecting her attitude, and this is intolerable. She needs to do something about the dismal state of things and with some urgency. There must be action.
What she wants to do is create something worthwhile, something new. She wants to experiment. She recognises that having such a freedom in life is difficult, a luxury perhaps. But she wants to dedicate her soul to dance. For this she requires collaborators who love dance like she does.
Her passion delights me. People who fight to do more emit such a wondrous energy.
We walk past graffiti and I wonder why it took me so long to travel again.
Stylised newspaper decorates the walls of the third establishment we venture to. The lyric-less music bounces. A stand for a sewing machine makes a quirky café table; the pedal is by my feet. We taste each other’s drinks – a caramelised ginger lemonade for me and raspberry lemonade for Midget – and talk. These fancy lemonades deserve much attention.
Most of all though, for me, the reason for being like this, ambling through coffee and tea, is that it provides a lovely sense of space. It’s a chance for Midget and I to simply be in each other’s company. While the Midget reads her guide to Europe, I take out my diary. And I’m smiling.
Based on my diary from Bratislava, August 2014.