Chasing cheesecakes

The scene was Bloor Street,

The sitch: “Escape from Robarts.”

I, walking briskly.

[dropcap]O[/dropcap]verwhelmed with five papers, four midterms, and 472 pages of readings, I bolted from the 13th floor of Robarts. My seat on the far-right corner was taken, meaning I couldn’t possibly sentence myself to this brutalist concrete prison to work. The universe had already let me down, and it was only 10:28 am on a Friday. Rattled, I ran. I ran away from my present and toward my future.

After a seven-minute near-sprint on the flat laneway that is Bloor Street, I felt my feet slow and the sun increase its glow as I ascended to the heavenly doors of Future Bistro.

To my left, an older grandmotherly type was scrolling away on the latest MacBook Pro, and in front of me was a younger couple making the most of their 20-per-cent-off student breakfast, soaking up every bit of hollandaise sauce with their last home fry. To my right sat an unassuming and empty far-right corner seat.

At 10:49 am, I ordered myself a large coffee — for here. As I pulled out my credit card for its first tap of the day, I saw them: the cheesecakes.

The heavenly glow peeked out again. Three rows of five cheesecakes on one side, two rows of six on the other, each a different flavour. My view of the cakes was then abruptly clouded by a waiter who swooped in to take a slice of butter tart cheesecake, snapping me out of this daze and reminding me to return to my seat.

At my table, in two swift motions, as if I was Neo preparing to battle Morpheus, I pulled out and opened my laptop. The first thing to greet me was Cheryl Blossom’s face right after she announced she was in the mood for chaos. Reluctantly, I closed the tab.

What greeted me next was nothing short of Morpheus himself: graduate school applications. Why not? Anything to procrastinate an essay that was due yesterday — why not start filling out my grad school apps due Monday instead?

Please attach your statement of intent and answer the following questions:

1. Why do you want to go to graduate school? Jeez, I guess because I can’t afford to live away from home and, after an hour-and-a-half commute, this is the best I can get.

2. Why should we pick you? I have been asking myself the same question for 21 years, my dude.

3. Which cheesecake would you pick if you could pick any cheesecake off this shelf? Aha! Finally, a question I full-heartedly know the answer to! Mango raspberry cheesecake, of course. My favourite Yogen Früz combo on my favourite slice of cake — the best of both worlds, beyond what Hannah Montana could have even imagined. That activation of enzymes and burst of raspberry sweetness when you bite into — my view was interrupted once again, this time by a short girl with pink hair coming to pick up a slice for herself.

It was hard to work on my future in Future, distracted by all these slices of cake and types of people. And man, people in here come in as many varieties as the cheesecakes. At 3:53 pm, I noticed two men beside me, armed with Steam Whistles, discussing robots taking over the world; I saw another student diagonal from me, engrossed in the latest Zadie Smith novel while slowly sipping their third cup of coffee; and I watched as a mother set down her groceries while her children ran to find forks for their own cakes.

Maybe the answers to questions one and two were right here in this moment. I am to attend graduate school because I want my future to be as vibrant as the beanie of the kid two seats down. Perhaps they ought to pick me because, out of the many chances I had to give in to my temptation, I knew my priorities and they included my desire to take the best of the present and maintain it in the future. And the best was right here, in the everyday interactions of grown-ups, children, families, and loners all running away from their own brutalist prisons to unite in a space where you could see everyone, and everyone could see you. In unison, we all raise a fork and dip into that first bite.

At 6:02 pm, I had a realization: I don’t know if I will be in grad school or not in the future — but I do know that Future will be here, and with it, its people.