I like Josh.
He reminds me of a friend I had in Texas who always knew how to make me laugh when I was most upset or anxious. Josh and I didn’t know each other well when we lived in College Station, but he has the same effect on me as my old friend, making letting my guard down easier when he was around.
After making a journey of over 2,800 miles to get to Seattle, Josh paid me a visit and temporarily cured me of my loneliness by providing a familiar face and some much-needed conversation. We spent most of the evening laughing and commenting on the newness of Seattle and living in a big city.
The conversation naturally turned into a game of questions, some serious, some not.
“What’s your favorite place to shop?” he asked me.
“For what?” I replied while staring at the empty space on the wall across from my couch where I planned on hanging new picture frames.
I lost it. I turned on my side and laughed until tears ran down my cheeks. I don’t know why it was so funny, but the laughter was contagious. Between my violent, body-shaking laughter I could hear Josh’s calmer, but steady laughter beside me.
As the laughter died down and I wiped the tears from my eyes, I turned to look at Josh. He was focused on the same space on the wall now and had seemed to calm down faster than me. We both sighed and were silent for a moment.
“I want to go home.”
The conversation had turned again but I knew what the situation called for was not my immediate response that I too, wanted to go home. No, this situation called for tea.
I stood up and walked to the kitchen. I don’t have a tea-pot, so as most college students have to, I improvised and let water run through the coffee maker to boil.
“Really,” he said, breaking the silence. “If I left right now, I could be back by like, tomorrow.”
While placing the tea bags in our mugs I turned to give him a scornful face.
“Okay,” he laughed, “maybe not tomorrow.”
I poured water; the steam and earthy smell of green tea were comforting to me. Just as I handed Josh his mug, the sound of police and ambulance sirens blared outside. Together we moved to the window to see what was happening, pushing the curtains aside and staring at the street four flights below.
Loud groups of college students and the neighborhood crazies were all out, rambunctiously enjoying the night.
“We’re in for an adventure,” I said, sipping on my tea. He grunted in agreement.
There we stood, two new kids standing in a living room staring at the city lights. The tea warmed my body and calmed my nerves.
Josh turned and held his mug up to me in a toast.
“Here’s to Seattle,” he said.
I laughed and for a moment the loneliness faded. I raised my mug up to meet his.
When I first started working at the District Coffee Shop, my boss told me “Coffee is a universal language. You can go anywhere in the world and find coffee and the culture that surrounds it.”
I never for one moment doubted that statement. Coffee was something so personal to me, something that was more than just a warm cup; but rather an experience, emotional and physical, that I craved whether or not it was the caffeine driving it.
My friends at home were jealous when I told them I was moving to Seattle. I saw the barista faces of my friends long for the opportunity to be surrounded by so much good coffee. While I refrained from telling them just how many Starbucks there were in the city, I did share in their excitement and look forward to experiencing the coffee vibe of this city for myself.
Today when I woke up I knew that it was time to go to a coffee shop, alone, and see for myself what it felt like here. I know that buying coffee isn’t going to be something I can do on a regular basis, given the absurd price for a cup of joe in this city, but I was feeling lonely and I knew that something familiar would help me feel more at home in this city.
What would make a barista feel more at home than a coffee shop?
I opted for a coffee shop close to my aunt’s store called Zoka. As I walked through the large entrance I admired the beautiful woodwork and breathed in the familiar scent of coffee beans. I noticed that the store was filled with other Seattle natives typing away on their computers or visiting with friends and smiled – this was a picture I was used to.
When I stepped up to the counter and looked at their menu I refrained from blurting out “You do Pour Over’s too? We’re the only shop in Boise that does that!” though I’m sure my friendly barista would have smiled and not thought I was too weird because of it.
I ordered my usual and scoped out a spot by the window where I could observe the people who came through the door. Young and old, students and couples, hippies and hipsters all walked through the door and looked like they belonged here. I wondered if I looked like I was supposed to be there too.
My barista poured stunning latte art and I immediately sent a picture to my co-assistant manager back home, knowing he’d appreciate it. I felt another pang of loneliness knowing nobody was here to share this moment with me. But when I complimented my barista on her excellent pouring she smiled and we exchanged a few friendly words before I sat down to write.
I may not know anyone in this town yet, but I feel comfortable with one of the biggest parts of the culture: coffee. Maybe I haven’t made any friends, but the friendly smiles of others in the coffee shop reassure me that I’ve learned the language here – it’s only a matter of time before I get to speak it with someone.
2901 NE Blakeley Street
Seattle, WA 98105
Mon-Fri: 6am to 9pm
Sat-Sun: 7am to 9pm