McConn Coffee Shop was, at one time, on the north-east corner of the Indiana Wesleyan University campus, on the north side of the CM (Noggle Christian Ministries Building). It's only grass now, but when my friends and I go there we can almost see the walls. Once my roommate and I traced out the walls and steps in the snow.
It was the perfect coffeehouse, complete with old overstuffed couches, rotting and sagging, and the usual tables and coffeebar and variety of people. The building used to be a chapel, though, so throw in some stained-glass windows, a lot of pews scattered about the room, and a stage (painted all black, with the Common Grounds logo on the back wall). Until they destroyed it the May after my sophomore year, they had all the great concerts there, all the campus bands we loved: Sam Bills Band, and Watching the Fight, and several others... and we had some fabulous guests like Miranda Stone. We had worship services there, too, and chapel services seemed pale and fake compared to them.
The coffeehouse was famous for its drinks, too. The
Greeno was a hot cider drink with cinnamon and sometimes
whipped cream--named after a student. They still serve that one at the new coffeeshop in the student center (which, although nice and all, will never replace the old one). The best drink of all, and one I've never found anywhere else, was the Crawford. The Crawford--also named after a student--was a mix of ice and milk and chocolate and maybe coffee, and the key ingredient: crushed malted milk balls. Make one at home sometime.
Sadly, they had to tear it down. It was condemned. But we think of it fondly. Someday, when one of us alumni becomes a millionaire, somebody will rebuild it.
Also, this is probably the best place to insert the poem I wrote about it. The idea is just to give you the feel of the place, since no one will be able to truly experience it again. (I wrote this a long time ago.)
Isn't it funny how we get attached to places?
Common Grounds Coffee House
You are too cluttered to capture quickly,
Too surreal to remember well: your smallnesses
Will serve, and we'll piece you together.
Dimly lit, trees dusty waving through
Broken panes of stained glass windows,
A clutter of instruments, gleaming, on a black-painted stage—
A womb of people, soft lined walls, heads turned in,
a cluster or two of loud
tennis-shoed khakied one-timers,
one or two (writers? Prophets?) with laptops,
someone talking on stools blocking customers
from sitting elbows on a playing-card-scattered counter.
A fire in a trash can,
Someone's crumpled class notes and half-filled paper cup
on the windowsill;
Someone known, pretty, confident in the center on a couch.
A me, just shy in a corner,
Or undetected in the balcony.
A girl's giddy shriek,
That girl on her guy's lap, private, nearly seductive
The rest of us squeezing by awkwardly.
someones talking in the back-dark at the doors,
shadowy, obtrusive, belonging.
shadows of girlfriends who are not here
on boyfriends' faces,
a small waist,
a dyed head,
A v-strumming guitar hand, passionate bass,
Listeners half awake;
a drum vibrating, rattling when it is not taken off stage.
Always open 8-1
(constantly closing 8-1, we believe, observing
the coffeebarworkers' comfort
and quietness of conversation)
always the expectation of someone's familiar head,
bobbing across the pews;
(occasionally noting the eyes behind me all around and something aware
of my not-so-goodwill shirt
sometimes a chest-weak expectation of someone not coming
(at least on time, at least on time)
bare shoulders with hair maroon (say, like mine last year—
how strange, to be a college freshman
a 35-mm camera,
standing on tables,
Freshmen with drawing pads, assorted pencils,
Rapid wrists twisting figures out of paper,
Older friends encouraging.
Sometimes a dog.
Sometimes arms raised in worship
(tears, lungs loud and tight)
Sometimes the foreignness of moshers,
a friendly invading army.
A man leaning over the balcony, baby on back.
Always someone across the room,
Arms out resting on pew-tops, aware but not looking.
(some girl: rarely
the mystery of a close friend, making it all clean
and harmless and together:
they are in north carolina, new york, noblesville, home.)
always that piano beckoning in the door-corner,
dusty, not-enough-used, resting.
rarely, someone’s whim, and dreamy
mix with the voices.
Sometimes a moment of peace.
Dry, wrinkled elbows,
Fritos Playing Cards,
Windows open windows closed,
Ribbed, cream-painted heaters,
Cold wind from open door warm breeze from high window,
Folded arms, indian laps,
Black white t-shirts sweaters tight,
Faded holey new dark blue grey jeans,
Long straight curly short frizzy thin cute luscious buzzed
Pulled back spiked up hair,
Long thin short chubby dirty sterile brown white fingers,
Some rubbed rough against guitar strings
or drum sticks.
On the walk there, on the way to you,
Snap-Flash of daylight, your empty walls crumbling old.
Whirring of espresso machine,
And Sarah McLachlan, growing slightly
Louder-softer-louder-softer at my approach, with the lilt of steps,
Shivering, gloved hands deep in coat pockets,
Frantic at the door, so cold--then the burst
Of hot air and in— glowing music lights reddish,
Remember to take shoes off, hair up blowing stringy
Wet grass in between red painted toes chilly and free,
Shoes dangling in left watch danging in right,
Everything swinging, shoulders bare
Catching buds of breeze.
Entering is stifling and warm, stuffed sweet happy roar,
Seniors fidgety, polite, freshmen obnoxious in pairs of
Hot chocolate strange, winter milky.
Leather, and dust flying from old couch cushions,
Some brief cologne or a mild perfume,
Slick open book pages, ink,
Coffee and milk,
scented various and