I’m not a person who likes to waste time.
It’s historically been hard for me to relax, take naps and “just chill.” I have improved in this arena since coming to Australia, but I’m not quite reformed.
A beneficial byproduct of this tendency exists, however. When plans run awry, I tend not to give up: I get creative.
This is what happened last Wednesday night, after I tried, then failed, to meet up with a new creative group I’d found on Facebook. They were gathering in a bar in Surry Hills, but I arrived to find said bar packed. After asking several people, I decided to just leave. Where to next? I was already downtown and Brendan was out doing his own thing so I was in no rush to get home.
So I just started walking.
I started craving some desert or hot chocolate at a café. But upon strolling the streets, I saw many of my options were already shut for the night (it was only about 7:45). I walked down a street full of rough-looking people standing outside a pub and decided to delve further into Surry Hills, a neighborhood I haven’t explored much.
I walked up hilly Foveaux, past a Mexican joint I’d tried the weekend before, and turned left on Crown Street. I saw a grocer on the corner, so I peeked in for possible pastries, but it didn’t have the right “vibe.” The vibe I wanted, by the way, was a darker, dingier one. A place with ratty couches, with only songs released before 2000 playing on the stereo. I would’ve probably had better luck in an Inner West suburb, or Melbourne, for that matter. I stopped to ask some workers at a chemist, and their suggestion was Gloria Jean’s. Not quite what I had in mind.
After snaking up Crown to Bourke Street, I made a left onto Oxford Street heading back toward the CBD. My eyes scanned the storefronts, and just when I was about to give up and head to the bus stop at QVB, I saw it.
The Grumpy Baker.
Not the most inviting of names, eh? But there were sweets protected behind the glass counter. I walked in and saw my vision before me: a narrow walkway leading to two shabby couches with magazines and a local paper spread out on the tables in front of them. And though I couldn’t be sure, I thought I detected some grunge/alternative tunes from the mid 90s playing on the stereo.
The friendly blonde clerk obliged my request for a slice of chocolate nut loaf and a jug of water, and I sunk into a couch at the back. I took a few bites of chocolaty goodness and read a story about happiness, of all things, in Australian Vogue. Just then, a Silverchair song from 1996 started crackling through the speakers.
I smiled. I was at The Grumpy Baker. And I was happy.
*Unfortunately, I was sans camera on this evening so I couldn’t capture shots of the café. Next time.