Tripio opens with a prologue, which was the suggestion of my editor. He felt the book needed something to grab the reader right away. My immediate reactionary, immature and arrogant thought was that Tripio is great and that its greatness demands patience! Those thoughts did not travel from my mind to my mouth and I mumbled a more agreeable and conciliatory response to my editor.
As it happened, just before that conversation I had been looking through my notes and old journals for the want ad I responded to for the job at Starbucks. I did not find it but knew I now wanted to use the original want ad for the prologue. This is covered in fascinating detail in post #17. Today, I want to go a little further back to a time before Jay knew Starbucks existed.
The prologue finds Jay working at the Oregon Street Coffee house in Dayton, Ohio. That coffee house was situated in the middle of a slowly gentrifying section of downtown Dayton called the Oregon District. As such, the Oregon Street Coffee house had neighbors that were becoming upscale bars and restaurants, a comic book store with a vast selection of porn mags in the back, and a vacant but soon to be rehabbed stand-alone movie theatre.
If the neighborhood could be described as up and coming, that could not be said for a good deal of Oregon Street’s regulars. Oregon Street opened its doors at nine in the morning and the regulars would take their stools at the bar and spend hours there sipping their coffee, smoking cigarettes, and discussing their plans for the afternoon or evening. Those regulars were indeed sitting at a bar, because the Oregon Street coffee house was a real bar for many years. But in Jay’s time the drink they served there was warm and brown coffee supplied by Dayton’s one and only coffee roaster. The regulars and the history of the place were only a couple factors contributing to the character and unique vibe Jay found while employed at the Oregon Street coffee house. The coffee was not what Jay liked however. Later in Tripio Jay admits that “the Cosmodemonic does the coffee right’, after he tries a cup of coffee at a coffee house in Chicago that reminds him of Oregon Street’s brew.
The visits Jay takes to his “coffee house under the tracks” show that Jay is homesick for his artsy coffee house in Dayton. At the same time, he acknowledges that his new employer has better coffee. Tripio is set in 1992 but Jay’s choice in where he finds his coffee fix has been repeated millions and millions of times since then. In the novel, Jay is simply going about his life making day to day decisions. He wasn’t choosing sides in any debate over whether his employer was responsible for the closing of coffee house like Oregon Street. That is the subject for books to come. Jay is about to face life changing circumstances which will make him decide bigger things than where to get his coffee: his employer is growing and is offering opportunities, he is trying to sell his first novel and his new lover is expecting a baby.
By the way, if you are ever in Dayton, don’t bother looking for the Oregon Street Coffee House, it closed a long time ago.
NOTE: I wrote this post many months ago. In light of the tragic shooting that occurred yesterday, I hope this post will help show that the Oregon District in my hometown has been in existence for some time and will continue on. It will take effort one day at a time to recover, but it will.