City Guides, Inspirational
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On Finding Sanctuary

The oscillating Spring winds in flight warmed by the untimely Summer sun summons a familiar sentiment of aged pages in a used bookshop to messy hair tied into a jumble crossing MacDougal. Greenwich Village has held its place as a haven for creatives, artists, and intellectual curiosities alike. It has changed and molded throughout the years, adapted to the changing tides of generational evolution, yet strongly carries its inviting charm.

I have always had an affinity for Greenwich Village, whether it be reading about its whirlwind intricacies in poetry or films centering in the city growing up. The gloom of winter in December within Washington Square Park walks turns introspective, a generative space of ideas and musings, appropriate for such a kept sophistication. The snow that fell would be trotted upon by fellow walkers, following prints left by a morning jogger or a noble french bulldog. The moment my toes go numb I would head over to Caffe Reggio, my safe haven.

With winter over and summer approaching, Caffe Reggio has always been a place to expect fresh characters and a spell of true vintage allure. Windows open and doors prop up, the quiet energy of sun rays spotlighting varying areas along the street, people shuffling in and out, borrowing chairs from one another, talking about love and distress. Since 1927, Caffe Reggio has its doors open from morning to after midnight, delighting with inspiriting drinks and selection of food items. With outside seating, the fascination of humans pacing up and down the streets, a harmony of honking cars, halfway conversations, and miscellaneous tinkerings amongst this orchestra of shifting bodies inspires fond empathy whenever I feel absent.

Spring-themed lavender lattes in their mini cauldron-styled mugs lasted me a good four hours while I studied Deleuze and Parnet for an upcoming class. With their mellow environment, I never felt uncomfortable and even let my feet prop up on the bench following the window overlooking the street. Decor inspired by Baroque-era Italy, its rich green walls and red linings felt dream-like, a perfect spot for imaginative thought. A smooth French conversation on the left of me bouncing off the windows, and a woman clenching onto her fork as she takes another stab at her pastry, I feel at home and yet, far away.

Finding spaces that hold its temporality with such a strong fist like Caffe Reggio is rare, and often neglected for bustling exchanges following the new. New York City, in general, has its lovely aged pockets sprawled out all over the place, but Caffe Reggio includes a space which involves people directly, whether it be to use their small, squished bathroom with their not-working hand dryer, or inviting cups of coffee which entrusts you with the experience of being–in the cafe.

Everybody has license to their sentimental spaces, somehow nostalgic of some sensation whether it be a wish in the past or yearning for a home. Whenever I feel cramped and/or too strained to meditate on the impersonality of life, I grab a book and head over to Caffe Reggio, knowing full well my presence is respected and spatially accepted.

Words by Jasmine Healy // Photography by Rochana Chalhoub.

© 2017 Reef Magazine



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