Coffee and Timber

Read this post intro here.  Why? Auto-response on: “…because I said so.” 😉

I can feel heat against my right shoulder. The rain has stopped and sunshine is making another appearance. Out the window cars are glistening from the midday shower. Passersby who decided to seek refuge under the covered entrance are making their way back out into the open. Their shoes are splashing in puddles while leaves overhead are dripping the last reminders of a summer storm gone.

I was able to outwit the storm. I am sitting at a table for two in a small café in my hometown. I am attempting to write. I’m not yet sure the direction this piece will go. I keep staring out the window. Distraction’s waving hands in my face. I hear bits of conversation from tables situated close. The air in here is thick, rich.  I smell hazelnut and earth like coffee beans mixed with timber. The type of timber that is crafted to make old orchard baskets, the ones used to harvest apples.

Breathe deeply now and allow yourself to take in the aroma… Can you smell it?

I feel Nostalgia wrapping her arms around me. I attended Sunday school at the Presbyterian Church down the road.  It is steeped in history, standing tall since the 1870s. We were not a “church-staying” family then but I do remember Sunday school at the old church in town, encased in stone.

At the vintage gas station turned general store just across the railroad tracks, my brother and I would fight over orange-flavored push pops and sugar sticks displayed in large glass jars. We visited the store to buy night crawlers before fishing.  The worms were soil-packed in Styrofoam containers. Opening the plastic top we could see them wriggling unaware of their future fate.

Can you see them moving through the dirt? Tunneling, trying to hide from the light you let in.

Down the road across the street from the café is the Town Hall where I attended elementary drama camp and made my theatrical debut as Lucy in “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.” I acted; I sang and even made it in the local paper where I likened my own little brother to my on-stage kin, Linus.  I considered it very serious work, strengthening my theatrical vocation.

Memories of my childhood, especially the grade school years, are timely as I sit here typing; timely because I have been feeling emotion that first manifested back then. At least that is as far back as my mind will take me.

Enter Insecurity and her annoying friend, Anxiety. Nostalgia has officially left the building. I may go chase her down the flagstone walk.

You have felt anxious, too. I know you have felt it. It’s okay. I understand. 

It is a feeling of foreboding situated in the pit of your stomach.


That place where hunger lives but hurt also hides. That place can offer insight when in balance; it can provide a situational gauge. Our ability to fight or flee exists here. Anxiety fucks with that dial.  Only letting us think the worst.

I was sitting at my desk facing the chalkboard. I was in fourth grade.  The room used to house music class or choir practice.  The large steps leading up to the back mimicked wide-rung, carpet encased bleachers.  To me, I felt like my step, my tread, was a stage. It was as if all the lights in the classroom went out, lest the one above me.  That was the moment it happened, I was called upon.  I didn’t know the answer.  Maybe I did.  That wasn’t the point.  All I could feel was the churning in my stomach, the heat in my cheeks and the unavoidable urge to leave.  So I did.  My fourth-grade-self ran right out the door.

There is much left unsaid in this story; the reason why I fled, why I felt nervous, and why I felt that fleeing would help. That is for another day, though.  This is about the moment I first let Anxiety in, the moment I let her win. She brought her bags that day and she’s been bringing luggage ever since.

Can you remember the first time you felt anxious?  The very moment you chose worry over reason? Can you feel them, taste them, see them, and smell them – the memories?

I have come such a long way since fourth grade.

Yes, that was meant to be funny.

After all, the inability to answer a question has proven quite tame in my life’s-lessons department.  I now sit at the front, raise my hand, and deal with shit. I actually enjoy public speaking.

You know, you too have grown.  The growing and learning is all that matters. It’s not what happens to you; it’s how you choose to live, grow up and move on.  I also think growth is best exhibited in how you treat others and handle challenge.

I am a lover of subjects like writing, health, fitness, and fashion.  God, I love the power and beauty of the written word.  It is transformative. I am amidst a new project now which ties all my loves together. The soul of this project isn’t based in a course of study, though; it is based in people.  Stories, our stories, aren’t what make us different.  Our stories are what make us the same, if we are willing to see the fundamental essence of each narrative. We are all relatable at some level.

What is your story?  Think about how emotion is tied to memory. You have millions, billions even. 

Yes, anxiety began to unpack again.  Today she sensed vulnerability and pounced.  I’m human and sometimes she wins. When I post about fashion, share a photo or even talk about my dreams via social media, she is there telling me that others are judging.  She says I need to run out the door.  Anxiety is telling me that unfounded judgement matters. She is making me believe that evidence exists proving her right. She wants me to fail, give in to negativity.

There is no evidence.  There is just fear.  Fear brought on by insecurity.  I want to write.  It’s as simple as that.  I haven’t figured out how all the pieces fit together, but I am pretty sure today was supposed to unfold just as it did. Taking this one step is what matters. And naysayers– literal and figurative – they don’t.  I matter. People who lift others up matter.

You matter. 

My coffee a la pumpkin spice is now a thing of the past. This last sip is somehow still warm or maybe it is my imagination; regardless, I savor it. This café is no longer bustling; people have headed home to prepare for the week ahead. I can see an orange-pinkness beginning to creep across the sky. It is time I, too, close up shop. I feel a sense of calm having written.  I feel a calmness having shared a small piece of myself, a story; one of my stories.

Thank you for letting me share.

I am a storyteller.

I am also messy, strong, kind, tired, passionate, silly and empathetic. I have more stories to tell.

More of mine; maybe one of yours?

The direction this goes is limitless, if I allow my – sometimes anxious – heart the opportunity. I think it’s time I simply go with it and see where the story takes me.

To be continued…