Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Every Day Girl

So, Bobby and I had an interesting conversation tonight. We were talking about his life, and how, when you are one of the rock star barista boys at one of these hotshot organic coffee places, your whole life just sort of comes to you. True, you do have to get your fancy-jean-clad butt to work at 5:30 in the morning, but still. You go to the coffee shop, and there's your world, all your friends, plus new ones every day, if you care to add to your collection. People who will go pick up huevos rancheros for you, put you on the list for whatever club has the band you want to see, bring you chocolate covered macadamia nut carmels from Hawaii... the list goes on. You just go to work and see what the day brings you, running partners or lunch with the boss, or drinks later with pretty girls. Whatever. Most of what you get there is going to be good.

That life is not like my life. My life is clearly a good one, but even now, while I'm in my early dilettante phase, my life does not come to me. My life is still about the 17 emails and 6 weeks it takes just to line up one dinner with the 3 girlfriends I used to work with. It's about driving across bridges and state lines and through rush hour traffic in order to see people who are still wondering what happened to the guy in New Mexico anyway, and is this Bobby character more than just your barista (yeah, not really) or what? My life is about planning and distance and trying to get closer, about evite reminders and, now, a little calendar I carry with me all the time, and try to write everything down in.

So, about now, are you starting to wonder what all this has to do with the photo above? That's Susan, of road trip fame. You recognized her, didn't you? Anyway, I'll get to all that in a sec.

Where was I? Ah, the whole coffee shop lifestyle thing. Recently Pam and I were talking about what the coffee shop experience is like from the customer side of things. She was saying that sometimes she feels like her coffee shop saves her life a little bit. I had to agree with that. Anyone who's ever had a dark time in this or her life, one of those times when really you just don't give a damn about getting out of bed at all, and not in that good "it's so delicious in here" kind of way, knows that whatever gets you out of bed and walking through the world that day is a valuable thing indeed. Sometimes the thing that gets you out of bed is the thought of the fine fine drug that is caffeine, or or maybe what gets you up is the feeling you know you will get when you look around a coffee shop full of people and see that you have managed one more day to join them as one of the living. Sometimes your foot hits the floor because you know that if you go to the coffee shop, the first person you talk to that day will be the barista who always gives you a good natured hard time about the hockey team you love. Not all the things that save our lives are big things.

Now, I know that very few of the people who love their baristas are looking to them even glancingly as some kind of salvation, and I know that the coffee shop customers deliver the macadamia nuts and the concert tickets and the handknit socks (ahem) for a lot of different reasons, but I think those reasons are nearly all variations on the same thing. To me, all the reasons boil down to the fact that it is just a basic human good to have a place to go where you are pretty confident that you are going to see a friendly face, get a smile, and where someone is going to carefully and with a certain amount of pride, make you something delicious and comforting. I think we love the reliable every day kindness of the coffee shop, and god bless those baristas and their smiles and shenanigans.

Now that I don't have a job, I appreciate it even more (did you think that was possible?). I appreciate the routine, the way it's always part of my day, even if I am just dashing in for a cup to go on my way to lunch with a friend I haven't seen in well over a year. It anchors my days the way feeding the wolfhounds in Creede anchored days there.

And that's what the coffee shop has in common with Susan. Susan is an every day thing with me. She's the one person in my life who knows, every day, where I am and what I'm up to. She always knows the temperature in my soul, and she is always close. I'm on 6th, she's on 9th. Simple as that.

Three girls I love like crazy

Over the years we've known each other, I have come to love her like a sister. I love her in that way that, to be honest, I hate to talk about because, being the kind of person who leads a life that is, to say the least, "intensely felt", that kind of love actually scares the shit out of me. About three sentences into any description of it, I'm probably going to be crying. Some people are so important to you that you just truly can't imagine what the hell you would do without them. Those are the people you call Family.

So, you know how much I talk about baristas and fine lattes and sitting at that great bar near the front windows and what a life-saving thing your neighborhood coffee shop can be? Take all that and multiply it by more than 20 years, and then you'll start to get an inkling of what Susan is to me. You may have thought this was all about the coffee shop AGAIN! but it wasn't. Really, in my roundabout way, I was writing about Susan, and how much I appreciate having her around every single day.

Because no matter how much I love the coffee shop, it still doesn't save my life the way she does.

Happy birthday, girl. Here's to many more. Sorry your post was late, but you knew it was coming, didn't you? :-)

1 comment:

Susan said...

But I didn't know it was coming, that's part of the greatness of the whole thing.

It's the best b-day present ever!!