The Little Review That Couldn't This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   The Little Review That Couldn't

by P. C., W. Buxton, ME



I can't believe they're closing it. But I'm getting ahead of myself - let me go back to the beginning. My friends and I, struggling writers all, were looking for a place to go. Not some place where everybody knows your name, but a simple place where we could go and relax. A place where we could plan stories and the like, and just settle into the atmosphere. We were looking for a place where we could belong.

We found it on one rainy night. It wasn't easy. We walked along the cold rainy streets of Portland for about an hour, but we finally arrived there: Cafe No. The Cafe was a jazz club, but a place where you could eat a little, drink coffee, and talk as well. We sat down at our table and ordered double cappuccinos and a Hungarian ham sandwich and started to talk. The place was terrific. Everyone there seemed to respect us in ways that the rest of the world did not. Everyone there was an equal, no matter how individual that person was. As we ate, we talked, and as we talked, we wrote on the tables. See, that was another great aspect of Cafe No: the tablecloths were white paper, and crayons were supplied so one could draw and create while eating. My friends and I shared story ideas and even diagrammed others on the table.

It was an incredible night. It felt as though my muse was sitting several tables down, whispering in my ear, giving me idea after idea. If you are a writer like I am, and have ever felt a creative high, then you know how addictive it is. To know that your mind is putting out great concept after great concept without fail is a feeling that I shall never forget. There was no superiority there. There was no doubt that we were writers, as there was everywhere else. We were writers. We were artists. And so was everyone else, even if they didn't work with such familiar tools as words. It was a sense of familiarity.

I enjoyed the place and my subsequent visits so much that I planned to write a review of Cafe No and send it to this magazine. I planned to share the wonderful sense of creativity and artistry in the Cafe. I planned to pay homage to the pedestal of my creative career.

But I can't. The famed Cafe No, in Portland, Maine, may be closing its doors forever. They're having a benefit on October 24th, a Sunday, to try to save the Cafe, but I cannot attend, because it's a school night. I fear that Cafe No is gone for good.

I don't know how to describe the feelings rushing through me right now. It's not like a friend has died, because it wasn't flesh and blood. It's not like a part of me has died, because it was too fleeting an experience to fully become a part of me. I think a part of my writing spirit will die when the Cafe closes its doors forever. I think the idealistic part of me that adored the wooden floors and the caffeine highs is gone, and that part of me was a wonderful piece that I had just begun to explore. Everywhere else, I feel inferior, a bit foolish, because it's my desire to work with words for a living. There, I felt as though I was equal, that I didn't want too much, that maybe it would be okay in the end. But now I'm back to the inferiority and the foolishness again. This world, you see, wasn't built to raise writers. It was built to raise computers and heartless corporate CEOs, and the one place where I felt whole, no, where I felt REAL, is going to be gone, and there's nothing I can do to stop it from happening.

So I guess I have to get up, dust myself off, and crawl back upward, trying to succeed when the odds are against me. Cafe No, or maybe an idealized version of Cafe No, will always exist somewhere within me, and that will become the wellspring from which my creations come. I suppose that is the only justice I can do that small jazz club/restaurant that, for a few lonely nights, provided me with solace from the cold, bellowing winds of the world outside.


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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