From the outside, Wayward Coffeehouse looks like your standard cafe: a few tables, a smattering of chairs. After entering, you come to a few realizations. Mostly that it's bigger on the inside.
I didn't fully understand why so many people had told me that I would love Wayward until I pushed open the door. The inner geek in me—something that's always there but lies dormant unless stimulated by memorabilia or a tasteful graphic tee—flared to life.
After you turn a corner, the cafe opens up unexpectedly into a huge space. There are spaceships hanging from the ceiling. There is fan art from seemingly every TV show with a cult following. There are cushy armchairs, big tables, small tables, and bookshelves. There are multiple universes. You'll notice an abundance of Firefly memorabilia and (if you have a keen eye) a photo of Wayward's owner with Captain Mal himself (the actor Nathan Fillion stopped by the cafe once).
"Though we have a strong preponderance of Firefly and Serenity here," an employee said, "we are equal opportunity geek. We draw from all the different geekdoms. I love that we can represent geeks of all kinds."
There's a special menu of coffee drinks on a whiteboard near the register that challenges you to name the references. No customer has ever gotten them all. There's the Mudder's Mocha, the Iocane Latte, the TARDIS, and (my favorite) the Devil's Trap.
This place is like nerdvana. It understands you as a geek and as a person. It's also not just a space for geeks, but for the community.
"Science fiction and fantasy have always been places where people can have common ground," the employee said. "A lot of science fiction and fantasy is about accepting people's differences. It's about exploring new worlds, it's about seeing the best in people, it's about understanding new possibilities. That to me is what science fiction fantasy does and that's why I love it. It gives people the possibility to broaden their experiences even if they can't leave where they live. It gives them the opportunity to experience how another perspective can present itself."
Wayward Coffeehouse opened in 2005. Since then, it's hosted marriage proposals, weddings, and baby showers. Divorce papers have been signed on those tables. Memorial services have been held under the spaceships.
It is its own microcosm of Seattle. The cafe was christened "wayward," as in wanderer, because it's a place for wayward souls who don't necessarily fit into the establishment or the status quo. There's a magnetism to any gathering place where you can talk about what you love, no matter how nerdy it is.
For the longest time, geek fandom was my life. But, as time has worn on and "real life" has taken precedence, those feelings and interests have dulled. When I'm in Wayward, that changes. I want to be the geek I was. I want to talk about season finales I loved, subtextual clues I noticed, fandom drama I reveled in, and how Supernatural went off the deep end.