I’m sitting in an independent coffee shop drinking a caramel cappuccino. When I walked in, I ordered two, announcing that I had a coupon.
“The buy one get one free coupon?” the barista asked knowingly.
“Yeah,” I replied dumbly.
When she asked if it was for here or to go, I responded, “Here,” attempting to sound nonchalant. Uh… it’s an independent coffee shop AND bookstore. This place was made to make my soul tingle in bubbly joy.
People, the barista is brilliant. She asked if I wanted one now and one later. Nodding enthusiastically, I announced that it was probably a good idea. “I won’t look like such an addict.”
People, I am wearing a shirt with a wide-eyed owl underneath the capitalized words, “NEED MORE COFFEE.” Uh, I think they know.
So here I am sitting in “Grounds for Thought.” Isn’t that a lovely name for a coffee/book shop? The books (and records) are all used, so they have this worn cozy feeling. Some book cases are tediously organized while other books are crammed haphazardly into shelves. An excess of records sit in cardboard boxes on the floor. A hodgepodge of tables and chairs are scattered about. One near me is set up for chess. It’s left neglected at the moment. To my left, two energetic college girls are working to complete a jigsaw puzzle. At times they laugh, but right now they are focused, frustrated at the task at hand.
“I’m going to scream and shout and let it all out,” says one girl matter-of-factly. Seriously, she just said that. I love them. I love this little place. I love the varying company of people coming and going.
Oh! It’s time to get my second cappuccino. This also seems to remind the girls of time, and they surrender on assembling the puzzle. Now, it’s a bit lonely in my corner of the shop. There is something contagious about the energy of undergraduate students. Their optimism, their enthusiasm, their naiveté are bundled into this unfettered vivaciousness.
Meanwhile, today, I discovered a new wrinkle. I’m not too upset. It’s a wrinkle caused from repeatedly raising my eyebrows in my “Are you fucking kidding me face?” I’m okay with that. It’s a bit of a judgmental wrinkle, but it also is one caused by years of being amused and bewildered at adolescents I taught. As long as I don’t have frown lines, I’m good with aging. When I’m ninety, I want my face to tell the story of a well-lived life.
But these girls today are a reminder that, though I am once again a college student, I’m not quite one them. For all their energy and joy, I am happy to be me. I appreciate those blissful moments more at my age. I also have this wisdom of realizing how little I know. Many young college students are filled with a confidence of feeling wise. Their growing education has made them more intelligent, but wisdom comes from life more than books. I loved being their age. I loved the experiences, the adventures. But I made wrong turns after graduating.
When I graduated, I lost that curiosity for practicality. I put aside silliness for responsibility. For all I thought I was wise, I was a fool who did not know how to embrace all parts of myself. I became dull and flat. It’s only from failures as an adult that I have begun to rise into a more interesting, multi-faceted person. Thank goodness I am not a young college student again. I would had to have to learn those lessons again. They hurt enough the first time.
Besides, I had terrible taste in alcohol and limited taste in literature back then. I drank wine coolers and read Jane Austen almost exclusively. Now, I still love my Jane Austen, but did you know how interesting nonfiction is? And smut romance is ridiculously fun; well, it is when it is adequately edited. I admit that I have taken a red pen to some of those books. And the last one I read? It was so terrible and beyond help that I threw it out. No one should have to endure such terrible writing. Donating the book would have been a disservice.
Anyways, I digress. I think the cappuccinos are doing their job. I’m feeling more jittery.
I really should wrap this up and get out of here. It is reluctantly decided. My parking meter is about to expire, and I really need to complete my statistics midterm. Ugh, statistics. I best go to the university library for that. That way, when I am swearing at my work, I’ll be surrounded by other college students studying. I think they will be sympathetic. Here at the coffee shop, people are too relaxed and comfortable to understand a human swearing aggressively at inanimate objects.