I don’t like Athens, Ohio.
I understand the small-town charm, but I’m immune to it. In three years, I’ve yet to gather more than a handful of friends, the majority of which I’ve already lost. I will probably not be coming back for a single post-graduate hOUmecoming, nor will I force my children to go to college here. Despite my overwhelming gratitude and praise for the journalism school at Ohio University, I cannot wait to graduate and get out of Athens.
The exception is Donkey Coffee. The back room on the first floor, the couch to the right, next to the sound booth? That’s my spot. During finals week when it is crowded, during winter break when their isn’t a soul in town… anytime of the year, I love it. Donkey’s atmosphere is what really draws me in (although I have always been a coffee fan).
There is something about a room full of 30+ undergraduate students hunkering down, surrounding each other with silent support and studying at a coffee shop that is open 24/7 for the week; the infectious determination fills the air, overpowering the scent of unwashed hair and the aura of unhappy souls.
There is something about sitting on a sunken-yet-comfortable couch in the middle of a silent town– inhabited by few for longer than a couple of years– and comprehending how small you are in that moment.
It’s only here, at Donkey Coffee, that I allow myself, even for a few moments, to appreciate the opportunity to live in a town that still has a DVD rental store, a comic book shop and a bell ringing on the hour.
I don’t like Athens, Ohio. Sitting in Donkey Coffee, though, I can see why people do.