I am in a chair. It is a wooden chair at a gleaming wooden table, lit up by the adjacent window. Outside, cars whoosh past, birds scavenge for food off the sidewalk, students hurry past leisurely couples, backpacks tight against there backs. Soft music plays in the background. Sometimes it is Hozier. Sometimes it is Sara Bareilles. Always it is calming. Always it is good.
This is my seat.
During my first two months at the University of Otago, I traveled around town, with the goal of eventually getting to every cafe. After a while, this goal became futile, as I discovered that some cafes were much more enticing than others. I had favorites, and I didn’t want to risk spending money on a coffee that wouldn’t compare.
Soon enough, the workload for school increased, and my favorites (RDC, Modaks, The Perc, Morning Magpie), though wonderful, didn’t meet all of my needs. It was at this time that I started coming to Governor’s Cafe. Prior to this time, I’d held a grudge against Governor’s, as I thought it was too close to school. In my ideal world, there wouldn’t be other students at my cafe, which would allow me to forge my own way through the semester. However, I soon learned to appreciate how close Governor’s is to campus, along with many other things.
Let me tell you why Governor’s is so great:
- It has wifi (necessary for most of my work)
- It is only a twenty minute walk from my flat (not close, but only five minutes farther than the library)
- It is open until 7PM on weekdays (and as a student, sometimes studying must be done later than 4PM–when all the other cafes close)
- The coffee is fantastic (especially the mochas)
- There is a $6 coffee + slice/scone/muffin deal (anyone who knows me knows I can’t resist a good deal)
- No one seems to know about the upstairs room (meaning I’m often able to study alone)
- The food is good (although, being a broke college student, I haven’t had the opportunity to try much of the “real” food)
- They have a “Buy 4 coffees, get the 5th free” deal (AGAIN with the deals!!)
- They know me (seriously. They all know me now because I come here so often)
Governor’s has become MY place, here in Dunedin. It is my place to come and drink coffee and talk to the workers and read and write and draw and study and FaceTime my parents and edit my brother’s college essays and socialize with friends and procrastinate doing my homework. It is one of the few places where I can always count on feeling at home. Humorously, the man who owns the place is American–he’s from Colorado. I never even registered his American accent until Holly, my friend from class who works here, mentioned it to me. I think I was too intimidated by him to notice his accent… let me explain:
One Sunday, I came to Governor’s to spend the day studying for a psych test. I got the $6 deal and ordered my mocha and one of the savory scones. “Can I have my scone in like, an hour, though?” I asked, in as charming a voice as I could muster. He just looked at me.
“Sure.” He said, unaffected.
“I’m sorry for being so difficult.” I chuckled, hoping he’d smile and make me feel better about being so difficult.
“It’s really not that difficult.” He said, totally stone-faced. “Just come up here when you’re ready.”
And I did. An hour later, I went back up to the counter and was like, “I’m ready for my scone!” He just shook his head and went to the back to warm it up for me.
After that day, I was terrified of him. I really thought he hated me for being an annoying American customer. Turns out, I was wrong. He must’ve been secretly charmed by my dorkiness because now he always smiles and talks to me when I come in.
But that’s just it. They all know me, here! When I come to Governor’s, I don’t get treated like a stupid, obnoxious, American tourist. I get treated like a regular. I get treated like I belong here. They expect me and I love being expected.
Governor’s has become my place. It has become the place that I will miss the most when I leave. Obviously, I am going to miss more than just one coffee shop–I will miss the adventures and the people and the beauty of New Zealand as a whole–but as a singular, specific, entity, Governor’s is the place I will miss the most.
So thank you. Thank you to every person that works at Governor’s Cafe. Thank you to every wonderful mocha, warmed muffin, and slice that I swore I would save half of for later and then ate the whole thing anyways. Thank you to this chair next to the window and outlet upstairs, where I have spent numerous hours studying, writing, drawing, and reading.
Thank you, Governor’s, for making a home for me in New Zealand.
Mocha + Muffin
Mocha + Vegan Apple Loaf
Me in my chair with my mocha and food