I wasn't looking for it - but good things often happen when you least expect them. It wasn't even my goal to achieve. My daughter has been on this quest all year, driving from east Cobb to east Atlanta to find her little cup of heaven and just the spot to set up her laptop. I would ask her, often, why she was driving 15-20 miles for a Triple Berry Hibiscus, when she could practically walk to one of the four Starbucks within two miles of our house for the same drink. Her response was always, "You just don't get it. They aren't the same."
She was right - I didn't get it. Why venture out so far when what you want is right in front of you?
And then like a sunbeam breaking through a storm cloud, or the hallelujah of a celestial choir, the truth was revealed to me.
It was a cool, bright Friday morning in downtown Atlanta. My husband and I had just celebrated our 21st anniversary with a staycation in Buckhead, and were taking a detour so he could do a site visit before we headed home. He had been tasked with inspecting the Peach Drop set up at the Flat Iron Building, but it was a restricted area, so I had to wait for him outside. We walked together to the building, joined by a parade of pigeons who were clearly expecting a treat.
As luck would have it, there was a Starbucks right across the street. It was tucked in a corner, part of a larger office building. The outside was made up of a long expanse of windows, painted with festive holiday images.
I walked in, sunlight everywhere, was greeted warmly, and ordered my usual chai tea latte. I then found a seat at a high bar, facing the window and the street. I could feel the sun on my face, see the trees rustle in the wind, watch the people walking by - and the pigeons still looking for their breakfast. It was quiet and peaceful. I pulled out my cracked Ipad and a story I had been working on, and reached for the latte.
It was at that moment that I noticed the name printed on my cup. "Alison". A miracle. A-L-I-S-O-N --- my name, spelled absolutely correct. Not Allison, or Alyson, or Allessin, but Alison.
And that's when I knew. This place was clearly special - or, dare I say - perfect. Let's face it, there is something cosmically gratifying about a barista spelling your name right. Fresh with inspiration, and with a cleansing, deep breath, I turned back to my story, absorbing the sounds around me. A man next to me was on the phone, talking to someone about sending them a package, and explaining about his legal name change and how he had never met his father. Two other men came in with delightful British accents, ordering their coffee like proper gentlemen. I joyfully texted my daughter a photo of my view, pleased to actually be able to speak "Starbucks" with her. I finally got it.
Yes, Virginia, there is a perfect Starbucks. But it is different for each person. Mine created a zen moment for a chaotic mind, and gave me a chance to center and regroup. Yours might be a bustling, two story mini-city full of interesting characters and a few chummy regulars. Whatever it is, make 2018 the year that you step out and create those spaces for yourself, somewhere you can regain your footing and discover something new.
Until next time, keep crowin' and - treat yourself to a venti!