After spending a day in San Francisco, I had some time to think (like I usually do) about writing. More, about how difficult writing’s been since I started blogging. There’s been over ten incarnations and blog experiments I’ve tried, all with the intention to help me write about writing, think about thinking, and choose to joyously articulate living. In this incarnation, the joy is the flux: living on the west coast as a wife and as a poet/teacher who misses poem-ing and teaching in Chicago and is looking for openings and opportunities to bring that creativity to Santa Cruz. Oh, and in the totally emerging/exciting/challenging position of starting a small business with my adoration of chocolate–specifically truffles!–and gift giving/hand making. That’s a lot right? I mean, it’s a lot to distill and the blog is a forum for distillation, a place to have a discourse that’s casual about the real difficultly of living.
So, I took to visiting favorite coffee shops and eavesdropping to remember that talking over coffee is just like talking over a blog.
At Sightglass, I listened to two men talking about gay marriage–heavy conversation for coffee. And I remembered, “Oh yeah, we can do that. We can talk about anything with people.” The conversation let the two friends talk about marriage, love, and what it all meant to them.
Sometimes, I’m afraid of talking about that. Even getting married, I was afraid to talk about the wedding and how much I didn’t want to be the center of attention, how worried I was that all these people would come and–ten years later–be disappointed that my husband and I weren’t “the type” of married people they’d wanted us to be. I admit, it’s a strange feeling to have and I was worried people would go directly to pointing a finger, to saying I wasn’t ready or it wasn’t the right person just because I had these ideas. I kept quiet about it, told my husband and my sister only. And I still keep a little quiet about it even now that we live somewhere where most of our friends are married and have more conservative ideas about marriage than we do.
Overhearing these friends open up to each other made me really think about how brave it is to put ideas out there, to put any idea out there. And I guess that’s what I hope to remember about writing in general: it’s brave to articulate. Almost anything struggles to find words or be said with any precision. Even the attempt to give word to thought is an act of courage.
I went to Blue Bottle’s kiosk in a sunny San Francisco alley and enjoyed another espresso (and a molasses/ginger cookie). I’d only been to the Mint Street location where, while I enjoyed the coffee and the lemongrass tea (amazing!), I was so stunned by the design and innovation that I think I failed to really think about the coffee itself. This time, the espresso was super honey forward with a little citrus kick at the front. Sitting outside really let me take the drink and enjoy sitting on cement slabs with strangers who were talking on the phone to landlords, talking to business partners about buying practices, and trying to make their busy day a little less “busy” with a minute or two of sun.
And my last visit–while I wanted to keep going to see all the other shops I love, but time (and the ocean) was really begging me to get back to Santa Cruz–was Fourbarrel. I hadn’t seen Fourbarrel since 2009, before they started roasting, and I’m super impressed with their development. It’s really stand out customer service here, a real willingness to talk about the shots they’re pulling and the flavors they’re hoping you get to experience. I’m not surprised they are doing so well considering that heavy passion.
What I like about a day in coffee shops is spending a day hearing people just talk and really enjoy the simple pleasure of a good conversation (and, even, a mediocre conversation). The sounds of someone else’s voice and how much we want to listen to each other is really something I needed to be reminded of.