On An Afternoon At Agora

Sometime in the 2020s

MONTROSE, HOUSTON—My sister and I have discovered a cafe nearby that we truly enjoy. By all accounts it is the most interesting cafe in Houston. In no other cafe in the city do you hear as many languages being spoken as in this one. They sell terrible European coffee, and cigarettes behind the counter. They are open past midnight. Outside, regulars play chess and drink wine as cars drive by.

I don’t know what it is about this place that draws me to it. Houston is the most international city in the United States; I heard that somewhere. However, it is so spread out that a person has to deliberately visit many neighborhoods, many miles and minutes apart, to experience this fact. But apparently not so in the Montrose harbor of our discovery where you can pull up a chair, set down your glass of red, and then write or read, or talk, or watch the many people from the many places speaking in many tongues.

It’s a shame, I think to myself, that I didn’t know about this place earlier. It’s been four years and soon I will be leaving. Of course the coffee is nothing like any of the third wave places. But just sitting here, listening to the sounds of Bob Dylan and Miles Davis records, I know that I would have been willing to accept the tradeoff of good coffee in a plain white-walled cafe like any of the others—playing lo-fi and campfire music from Spotify—for so-so coffee in a Euro-American oasis playing Dylan and Jazz on a jukebox in the middle of this Houston billboard neon lights box-mall sprawl of post-Modernia. ☗

Photographs by MDI