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Posts tagged ‘Starbucks’

Invitation

The boys hopped off their bicycles at the corner. Propped on kickstands, the bikes stood like trusty steeds by the watering trough awaiting their riders. One boy fastened his helmet to the handlebars while the other wore his. They strode to the door and entered the Starbucks store. I squinted at the activity from a nearby table on the patio.

Despite it being December, I sat outside the café in shirtsleeves, enjoying the sun shining into my eyes. I tried to write but pages of my notebook flapped like crows in the escalating wind.  I watched the bicycles and traffic and passersby with an increasing sense of urgency: Where are the boys? When are they coming out? The bicycle rims glowed and taunted me.

Bicycle friends, unchained and free.

Bicycle friends, unchained and free. © JustHavingFun

I grew up in cities—not particularly dangerous ones—places where you had to be on the lookout because bad things could happen. Even from an early age I knew if I left my bicycle unattended it might not be there later. I had a chain. I had a lock. I had a quick-release hub for the front wheel. One simply did not leave the bike unattended. To do that would be an invitation for a thief to steal my most prized possession! Why didn’t the boys chain their bikes?

The wind whipped my pages faster and blew over one of the bicycles. Another patio-sitter jumped up and righted it. I cranked my head toward the store. Where were the boys? A nod to the rescuer and I returned to my pages.

I’m a mother. My mothering powers expand and include all within my gaze… and beyond. My mom-sense hackles were bristling. Another gust toppled the same bicycle. The rescuer rose again, righted it, and I gave her a wan smile. Since I couldn’t write, I capped my pen and went inside.

“The wind knocked over your bicycle,” I informed two boys about 13-years old. One wore a helmet and the other was finishing a latte. The boys thanked me, and one went to peek outside. When he returned I turned my mom-powers on him. “Let me ask you a question. I write a blog and I’m curious: how come you didn’t padlock your bikes?”

Their innocence made me smile. “This place is so safe,” the blond one said. “You don’t have to worry about theft.” True, we were in a modern shopping village development, but I wouldn’t believe it. “I live down there,” the helmeted one nodded toward the gated community a quarter mile down the road. “Nobody ever bothers our stuff.” I nodded and listened without judgment. They felt unassailable. They excitedly told me about a Ravens football player they saw while biking to the coffee shop. All was normal in their world.

So precious. So fresh.

We were not so far from the dangerous, crime-ravaged city but we could have been in a different country. Less than 5 miles away houses sit abandoned and the poor abound. Storefronts hide behind barred windows and people meander on mean streets.  Here however, a boy drank coffee in the afternoon with his friend while their bicycles waited on the sidewalk. This verdant, safe suburb we sat in nestles behind an invisible, invincible curtain. These youths were wrapped in a butterscotch coating of safety and security.

You never know who you’ll encounter in a coffee shop. We chatted a bit, the mom-powered lady and the youths too candid to catch the irony of the situation. I bade them goodbye and pondered upon an upbringing so charming and charmed near Charm City. Though I ventured into the suburbs I couldn’t leave the city in me behind.

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Starbucks Sentiments

Starbucks for Sale

Post-holiday sale items at Starbucks.

Today at Starbucks the featured Dark Roast was French Roast. Oooh la la! I wish I could bathe in it, breathe it in. Unfortunately, one grande-sized cup has about all the caffeine I can tolerate lest it keep me up all night.

On a frugal (and kosher) budget, a trip to Starbucks entertains me for less than three dollars. I generally order a plain, black coffee and eschew the frillier selections. If I’m feeling adventurous I’ll ask for whipped cream on top, but it dilutes the stark, intense flavor I adore.

One Starbucks is like another, yet different.  The combination of layout, clientele, music, lighting and noise level distinguish one from another. The one I’m sitting in tonight sports few electric plugs. I’ve taken to bringing an extension cord with me, fitted with a three-prong adapter, so I can sit at a table in the middle instead of hunching over a short table near the armchairs and plugs. The employee sweeping up said I’m the first person he’s seen do this. It’s subtle, and I hope nobody complains, or worse yet, trips over the cord.

Tonight, the atmosphere thickens with fog, and water droplets cling like jewels to the tree which is backlit by the parking lot’s spotlights. Feeling sentimental. It’s nearly the end of 2015. I’m reluctant to leave the coffee-infused atmosphere. I drained my second cup (decaf, naturally) an hour ago, but I keep thinking of more tasks to do while I have access to WiFi. Just one more word, just one more check-in. Just one more…

The rain began without my noticing it. I’m in coffee-land, computer-land, blog-land. The customers come and go. I suck the last drops out of my cup and prepare to go home, out of one cocoon into another.

Sitting in Starbucks

Knitting in Public - aqua afghan

Knitting in Public – aqua afghan at Starbucks, March 20, 2015

At a Starbucks in New Jersey this time, taking refuge from traffic as we travel to our Shabbos destination. An impossibly heavy snow started falling shortly before our departure. Snow obscures my vision on the road. We left early and I drive slowly. We’re early and stop to savor time and a cup of warmth. We’ll leave in an hour, closer to the time we’re expected at our hosts. My nostrils twitch in anticipatory pleasure, a nice cappuccino to soon pass my lips. We settle on the leather armchairs near the front window and wait for our order to be called. I wait; he goes and fetches the cups.

The lady in the corner knits. I see her following the instructions with her finger. Bright orange highlighter marks the lines. I ask what it is, outing myself as knitter. It’s an afghan, she says. A most captivating color of aqua green spills over her lap.

I guess her age to be in the 70s. Seeing I am wearing a headscarf and long skirt, she tells me that her mother was from Poland, the youngest of 8 children. This is a form of Jewish geography, the unconscious attaching we do to connect ourselves in time and space. Her grandmother was very religious, she continued, praying copiously. The grandfather died at 39 leaving a widow to cope with all those children. How they made it to the USA was not disclosed. Despite the religious grandmother, l can tell that she is not, but she’s Jewish, too. She wears youthful blue jeans and a trendy hairstyle. She peers over her bifocals at me, one finger on the page, the other hand gripping the knitting needles. 

When I came in she had been talking with the man with a very strong New York accent. They compare their respective histories in the vast country of Brooklyn, discovering they had walked the same streets. Although he traveled all over the world, he never shed his Brooklyn voice. In New Jersey, however, it doesn’t hinder him. He tried to learn Spanish to no avail although his wife is Colombian and the children are bilingual. She lived in Vermont, Texas, Florida, North Dakota, California, and five other states, and lost most of her Brooklyn voice. She can camouflage herself almost anywhere while his New Yorkese blared as loudly as a foghorn. Together they walked through their remembered neighborhood. How they came together on this snowy afternoon is happenstance, coincidence, fate.

A second man joins Mr. Brooklyn. He speaks with a strong Spanish accent but he looks foreign to me, not like local Spanish. Maybe it’s his clothing or sibilant S’s that strike me as different. They launch into a discussion of pipes and fittings, fire sprinklers and city codes. Soon-to-be business partners I surmise. I don’t pay attention to their conversation. I let the business details patter around my hearing, so many wet snowflakes melting as they touch down.

They smile, plan, gesticulate. Ms. Aqua knits. I sip. Hubby reads. Snow falls. The hour inches closer to Shabbos and the time we will continue our trip.

The Cloud

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/f36/64094053/files/2014/12/img_60721.jpgWarm, gazing out the window, I watch the cloud that descended upon the city misting the streets. My cappuccino’s foam doesn’t quite reach my lips so I probe with my tongue. A wooden stirrer seems a better choice, so I reach for one and slide it into the cup. I savor the slightly piney tang under the pillowy mounds.

David Letterman grins down at us, his Late Show theater dominating the block. People rush beneath his gaze. I expected to see more shoppers, more people burdened by bags, but most seem to be the quotidian norm bolstered with boots and umbrellas. Traffic crawls by, wipers occasionally flapping to remove cloud bits from the windshields.

The mother next to me admonishes her daughters who are wearing matching headbands: braided red, green, and white metallic strands. “Eat something now,” she nags. “We have two hours until we need to be there.” One girl adjusts her headband. “Can we go by Rockefeller Center?” she asks. A homeless man taps on the window to attract attention. I don’t hear the mother’s reply. I’m transported into the cloud, dipping into my clouds of foamed milk, watching the slice of Manhattan sky I can see become more occluded by the cloud.

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