It’s my birthday, and it’s 6:44 am. I’m in the cavernous shared showroom of Coava Coffee Roasters & Bamboo Revolution, a steaming cup of Ethiopian Kochere beside me fitfully reflecting the overhead lights on its sheeny surface. Outside, just past the old drill press that doubles as a table, cars and pedestrians splash refracted puddles as Portland starts to come down off its mount of frozen shock.
With a sense of astonishment, I find I’ve slipped over the brink into my twenty-ninth year. The past few years have held relocation/dislocation, childbirth & mothering, romance, professional accomplishment, education, lots of Dickens novels, and even more coffee. As I lift my cup to my lips and savor its buttery mouthfeel, decipher dried blueberries and honey overlaying a mellow wine with an oaky finish, I find I don’t even have the strength to wonder what will happen next.
You see, I am content. Though parenting a toddler had me in tears last night, though a hard deadline rides me now, and though I have absolutely no idea how this whole “two-parents-working-full-time-sans-childcare” thing is going to work out, I cam content. I have battled for love, and won. At twenty-nine I have borne my pain and know I will bear more in the future. And I have tasted my wine, sipped my magic, dabbled in miracle. I bear some scars and know I will earn more.
Fully engaged in the sensory whirlwind that is life, I pause while past, present, and future converge here in the early morning in Portland, Oregon. I find I am content.
Moving is soul-displacing. Familiar spaces and faces disappear and the heart wonders where they went. New streets, new habits, new patterns, have yet to begin, and you wander on the earth without leaving trails below your feet. Every person you see is a stranger. Every house a haven closed to you. Even the dogs and the cats, even the transitory folk who wander, even the raindrops that slide down your new windows–they all seem more at home than you.
I recently moved to Portland, from the wild concrete jungle of Orange County. My SoCal experience was short, three months at the outside, but for this girl who was raised in a small country house surrounded by cornfields and forest, it was revelatory.
Familiarity takes a toll on us, but so does newness. Here in Portland, in the city of grit and protest, I am thankful for the network of shared purpose in coffeehouses. While I may not be known, my passion for learning about origin and extraction is recognized, and between the barista and myself there flashes a brief moment of fellowship.
The beverage world is really about community–shared rituals, shared passion. Here in Portland, in the City of Craft Bev, I am learning that lesson all over again.
Portland, OR / early morning / photos from Broadway Cafe & Westport Rd. in Kansas City, MO
Self-assured, you stand in the midst of rushing feet and pavement colonies. Child of wanderers, with your eyes and heart engaged in the pulse and rhythm of the city surrounding you, you communicate one solid moment of perfection to those of us who stand still ourselves and watch you with adoring eyes.
Time for pizza.
Portland, OR / lunchtime / Sizzle Pie
Westport, Kansas City, Missouri / early morning / near Broadway Cafe and Roasting Company