It seems that life consists of many indispensable things.  Although you have long since grown tired of your apartment (street, neighborhood, city, country, or planet), when you think about having to move, it carries the illusion of being irreplaceable.  It’s like that shirt you wear over and over because it’s the only one that still fits, or the chair that you constantly trip over, but you leave it because it’s always been there.  It’s the same, sometimes, with people.

You’re convinced that you cannot live without them.  After you separate, though, you’re somehow still alive, and often doing better than before.  I’m not trying to say that everyone is replaceable; take yourself, for example.

The illusion of uniqueness, however…  that is an irreplaceable part of existence.  The brain is wired in such a way that it craves habit.

We have, in our city, a mysterious café; let’s call it Earth.  We don’t have other cafes.  In the entire, giant metropolis – only Earth.  All roads lead to Earth.  And if you decide that you’re tired of Earth and determined to change your life – your depressing job, boring husband, or dull social life – the cafe remains.  It never changes.  It’s like the enchanted city in Cavafy’s poem.

Technically, we do have other cafes.  All of them close by 10pm, though, and some even by 6pm.  Earth is like all of them put together.  And no, it isn’t a mega-corporation, or a secret organization; there are just a couple of locations in LA.

However, for those of us that live in the vicinity of Earth, the rest of the world does not exist.  It is difficult to explain without attracting mystics.  Right across the street are other cafes that are equally good, but they have no soul.  There’s always a crowd at Earth.

Maybe they have some kind of special coffee?  Organic?  Yes, please!  That was a rarity 15 years ago.  But ultimately, organic/shmorganic, I don’t care.  It might be tasty, but I can’t say that it’s better.

Then why do we always end up there?  How many times have we tried to emigrate to another cafe, only to cowardly return, again hunting for a table and third chair, all ordering the same chicken salad and boring Earl Grey, snacking on the same treacherous biscuits (saying “Just once is ok”, for the thousandth time), and catching glimpses of the women’s legs, all while talking about how it’s time to finally make a change in our lives?


There’s always the grey-haired, 60-year-old poodle, whom we call Mark Twain, along with another dozen or so cock-eyed characters – all prisoners of Earth, just like us.

In short, I don’t know what their secret is, but the people have voted with their feet and their wallets.  I guess you could say that all the essential elements are there: oxygen, close friends, and the nearby Benjamin Eye Institute  (whom I trust with my eyes).

Since this post is more like a toast and begs for a final note, let’s raise our glasses to the profound balance between unbeatable loyalty and the winds of change.


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Text and photos: Sebastian Varo
Translation: Richard Crenwelge