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
Josh Widner is startlingly approachable, in the midst of the close-to-cocky air of confidence he exudes. I sat down to interview him for a magazine piece one chilly evening in his scotch and cocktail bar, Scotch & Soda, in the heart of the revitalizing Springfield, Missouri downtown. The air of substance and luxury surrounding me was unexpected in what I’ve always seen as a gritty town: floor-to-ceiling, deep-red tapestries, wall-to-wall wood that glows in the strategic light, and a beautiful library ladder at the back of the bar that Josh tells me was built by his grandfather to replicate the ladder from his family’s 60-foot catamaran.
“When my studio job in Iceland fell through, I started working as a barback with my brother here in Springfield,” said Josh, a Full Sail graduate whose emergence into the music industry coincided with the demise of the CD. It was a fortuitous dead end. Three years later, with funding and business plan in place, Josh and his business partner opened Scotch & Soda.
With over 130 single malts to offer and a growing fan base, Scotch & Soda is the 3rd largest scotch bar in the state. “From a business standpoint, we’re selling a lifestyle brand,” says Josh. From a customer service standpoint, he and his staff are simply presenting their passion for good drinks and offering education, humor, and a sense of belonging. “My regulars are some of the coolest people ever. We’ve created a small family here.”
Springfield, MO / evening / Scotch & Soda