Coffee Shop Thoughts (on Poe and Friendship)

The clouds hung low in the sky yesterday as I drove toward a little coffee shop to meet my friends from school with the intention of communal writing. I couldn’t help thinking, “During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens…” I had been teaching Poe and started drawing parallels. Except yesterday—the clouds weren’t oppressive, and the day wasn’t dull, dark, or soundless. Traffic hummed, and the sky beyond said clouds was clear, bright, and blue.

“…I had been passing alone…” this was true… “on horseback…” and by horseback, I mean in my Mazda CX-5… “through a singularly dreary tract of country…” if you consider downtown Houston the country or deary. Perhaps, it was opposite day… “and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on…” I mean, I found myself as the morning sun shone brighter… “within view of the melancholy House of Usher…” at my destination, anyway, a packed parking lot at 1111 E. 11th street, hardly melancholy.

Just inside the front door, A 2nd Cup teemed with the aroma of good coffee, the sound of Indie music, a vibe of creative energy, and three of my friends. I wondered if Poe had friends. I bet not. His House of Usher was melancholy from the first sentence. Mine included coffee, friends, and writing…a purpose. Is it all a matter of perspective? If you dwell on the melancholy is your house destined to fall?

*This post was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” and brought to you by A 2nd Cup, a non-profit coffee shop and café that raises awareness of human trafficking issues in Houston and develops resources that help create a second chance for survivors.

42 thoughts on “Coffee Shop Thoughts (on Poe and Friendship)

  1. Crystal, I love this post. Then again, I always enjoy your blog. The question, “If you dwell on melancholy is your house destined to fall?” is such a good one, such a poetic reminder to capture our negative thoughts and choose to replace them with the positive. Perspective is at least almost everything. I enjoyed my time with you yesterday as always.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for reading and for your thoughts here, Kionna. In class we discussed in depth the details of this one sentence: the imagery, the harshness of the alliterative D sound, the tone, and then the grammar…two dependent clauses and a main clause with a compound verb, five adjectives, and thirteen prepositional phrases…how the phrases lend a rhythmic quality and additional details while slowing everything down. Yesterday, this post was headed in a didactic direction, and this morning it u-turned. Your friendship is a bright spot even when the clouds hang low. Love you!


  2. Parallels? Not so much, Contrasts, though? Now you’re talking, my friend!

    In fact, the sunshine triumphs in your tale, Crystal. Both meteorologically, and even more important, as your hopeful and generous spirit beams. All the better, as its exultations part Poe’s clouds. We Northeasterners do melancholy well, but still, even the moodiest among us is no match for you.

    Which brings the most promising contrast of all. We all know what became of Usher’s house, but your destination rises in its place. In the end, Poe wasn’t particularly helpful, and his narrator did little to inspire his distraught friend, but seeing you and your coffee-mates’ radiant cheer reinforces A 2nd Cup’s purpose.

    Maybe its story, like Poe’s, began in drear, way back when, but everyone’s smiling in the end. Better, don’t you think?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, the parallel started with the low slung clouds, and then, okay, you’re right, my little story stands in juxtaposition to Poe’s.

      Then, you will never believe what happened after my coffee/writing date. There just might be an Episode II for yesterday. Perhaps an Episode III. Hate to leave you in suspense, but the smiles continue.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. What, it gets better from there? I’m gonna have to read this to believe it. Do tell, Crystal!

        Oh, and clouds…schmouds. After outlasting a hurricane or two…or three, you know all too well how foreboding Houston clouds can be.

        Fortunately for your readers, they provide a great transition from Poe, and a bracing introduction to your own story. Whereas he rarely lets up on the distress, your tale lifts to brightness.

        Best of all, he merely imagined his vision. You’re living yours.


      2. Right now it goes sort of like this…
        And then…
        And then…
        Much like a diary entry. I’m still trying to make some meaning out of the rest, but the day ended with a double rainbow, and that’s the truth.


  3. If you dwell on Melancholy is your house destined to fall – perspective is vital. It we dwell on all the not so great things in our life or around us, we lose sight of the many blessings.
    Enjoyed your writing ✍️

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love this. I used to love Poe’s writing when I was in school. But I admit I have not read anything by Him in a long time. I will have to remedy that. Thank you for sharing this insightful piece. You are so talented!


  5. This is a lovely post that brings together the ordinary with the profound. I like the reason for the coffee house and I’ll be thinking about your question: “If you dwell on the melancholy is your house destined to fall?” My immediate thought is yes, your house will fall– but life is never as clearcut as that, in my experience.


  6. Loved this post, Crystal! Getting together with friends after a long drought is so lovely, but then also add in a writing session? Sounds delightful!!

    I work in a human trafficking clinic in my city. It’s rewarding, tough, exhausting and hopeful all at the same time. Thanks for writing about this.. I have been mulling over when I will post about this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jen! I had taken writing workshops and attended writing conferences before going back to school, but I’ve never had a writing group with people who are serious until now. I love it.

      No doubt you have some stories to tell. It’s hard to believe human trafficking exists in North America. What is wrong with people? I would be interested in an insider’s perspective.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for sharing!!…. wish great success for the coffee shop and its efforts to help!!.. every home and person will have some melancholy from time to time but I believe that “A home that is built with patience, understanding and love will withstand the strongest winds of difficulties and conflict , a home built with a closed mind, insincerity or haste will collapse in a mere breeze of discontent.” (Larry “Dutch” Woller )… 🙂

    Thinking about reading “The Hound of the Baskervilles” for Halloween… 🙂

    Until we meet again..

    May your day be touched
    by a bit of Irish luck,
    Brightened by a song
    in your heart,
    And warmed by the smiles
    of people you love.
    (Irish Saying)


  8. Love this: “teaching Poe and drawing parallels”. The poetic resonances in that combined with pictures of smiling faces — no set agenda, only true experience. Love it! Jane


      1. Just wanted to point out that I couldn’t follow you on your web page to get updates. I am a bit slow with tech stuff if there is a way to follow you please do let me know. Did enjoy reading your posts 🙂


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