Wisconsin weather in the spring is always been interesting. One day it can be a bright sun-soaked 75 degrees and the next it will be a chilly 42 degrees with a soaking drizzle mix of rain and snow. So needless to say once the sun starts peeking out behind her winter veil, we tend to embrace it around here. We will use any excuse we can to get outside. 

This past Sunday I was scheduled to work a shift and I decided to run a few errands before going in. I was able to complete them quickly and found that I had about 30 minutes before my appointed start time, so I took the opportunity to stop in at a favorite local coffee spot.

Like every good coffee place, it is an eclectic mix of stereotypes that you would expect to see. I really enjoy and relish this spot, and have stopped in on a few occasions just to take in the atmosphere. On this particular Sunday, I was not disappointed. I viewed a variety of people, all of who, had an agenda for the day.

The experienced baristas are training a new employee, taking the time to explain the process while cheerily greeting customers asking them “the usual?” Doesn’t it seem both delightful and depressing that we have “usuals”? But more on that thought in a bit. The newest addition to the morning crew was trying to keep up with the energized flow of the other baristas, who themselves didn’t seem to need the supply of coffee. Nodding her head, eyes widened, carrying a fistful of cups, she tried to follow the blur of energy that was her teacher.

The slightly cliche light acoustic guitar notes filled the room, flowing into our ears. We come to expect it in our coffee places. A mellow balance of energy and chill that comes with our grande peppermint white mocha extra whip. 

What coffee place doesn’t have fresh faced college students getting their Sunday morning fix. They are everywhere, hunched over the lit screens of their laptops, sipping lattes and iced green teas wearing their faded T-shirt and Converse shoes. Both men and women with hair pulled up in a messy bun that still looks the perfect blend of put together and “just rolled out if bed”. 

Of the college students at the table next to me, one tall athletic blond (ugh, aren’t they all tall athletic blonds?) was chatting with her study partners about her recent track meet and upcoming final papers. The young woman had forgotten her laptop cord while visiting her parents on Saturday. She told her friends that when she got back to the dorms she found her dad left message on cell phone that she had forgotten it. She called him back and he told her that he could simply drive to meet her. So on a early Sunday morning her father drove two hours in order to meet her half way saying “we gotta do what we gotta do”. This young women told her friends that she felt both grateful and guilty that because of her study and work schedule, she could stay only about five minutes. Her father gave her a hug, a fresh coffee and two chocolate bars before wishing her luck on her final projects. It was a reassuring sound, a young person doing what we have all done for generations. We balanced studies, family, friends, work, and perhaps extra curricular activities that could earn us a precious scholarship. Reassuring because it reminded me that I had at one time had it that stressful, and it had taught me many things that were NOT related to my field of study.

 Beyond them, a sweet old couple were reading a paper together. Decked out in that typical brown sweater and fedora combination that makes you feel both cozy and classy, the gentleman held the paper folded done into tiny rectangle . His reading partner had a perfectly styled coif, and held her paper wide open. There was evidence that she had to work to unfold each section of her paper as it was filled with tell-tale marks. Silently sipping coffee and trading sections of the paper with out any words passing between them. They sat there, relaxed and at ease, enjoying the soft leather chairs. 

In the corner two excited young mothers, dressed in dark yoga pants, gesturing with fluid movements between their two young girls and the story they were sharing. The rosy cheeked little girls, mirror images of their mothers, excited to have steamed milk so that they can be like “the big girls”. The point at which I noticed them fully, was when one of the young girls, had been at the counter with her mother and asked the barista for “my usual please”.

How does a 6-year-old have a “usual”? For me a stop at the local coffee house is a treat. Okay, I admit it is treat that I have about three times a week, but not enough that I can request a usual beverage. And how is it that a child can have a usual? Do we indulge too frequently? Maybe it is because it is such a comfort to have something familiar close at hand. I have a morning routine to fill my cup with coffee and have a snuggle with my dog. However, why must be cling to these same-old, day to day things? Exploring the new, stepping out into the “wild” is what makes life so interesting. It is the same reason I enjoying trying new restaurants or styles of food.

The advantage of experiencing something new outweighs the apprehension of trying it in the first place. We can discover a new pleasure for ourselves that we may have otherwise left unexplored. Perhaps we find a new passion. It also grants us an appreciation of what is to come. Until then, however, I will settle for my daily “cup with my pup” while waiting for the sun to join me for my next adventure.

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