How life happens in a coffee shop

For this post I can only speak for my life so I will. I am in transition and trying to figure out how to settle my life so that I am not wandering all of the time, as I have been the last 25 years. Sometimes you just get tired of life and being kicked around and dealing with losses of friends and maybe even the loss of home over time. For as Thomas Wolfe says you can’t go home again…but I am looking homeward now and I can remake home for me. I catch myself gazing over Lake Erie to the horizon where Lake Superior and Lake Michigan lies, and I am transported back to my youth when I stood at the lighthouse on Canal Park and imagined what lay over the blue eastern horizon. I know now, and I am world weary and ready to follow the geese back home.

The coffee shop has been my headquarters where I have arranged a job over the phone while drinking my large dark roast and sad folk songs play on the stereo overhead. The worn wood shelf at the window is my desk where I have written family and friends letting them know I am going home. I have gazed out the window at the busyness of Hertel Avenue in Buffalo and while it has been my home where I have picked up the pieces when my life fell apart (twice in ten years I healed in Buffalo), there is something about knowing when its time to go that is at once nostalgic and bittersweet. I have good memories here and good friends. Buffalo will always have a place in my heart.

I gaze at the people sitting here and they are all a life encased in themselves; many lives working and unfolding in the hours they pass here. Some meet friends for conversation about what’s happening in their lives. Some, like the guy in the corner ave found this the perfect place to crochet a green sweater, some are studying schoolwork as Buffalo has many good colleges. Some are lovers and some, like me, are alone and okay with their solitude, their coffee, and their bagel or muffin or biscotti.

You live your life everywhere but there is something special and intimate about the time I spend in the independent coffee shop. It is a restful space, a peaceful space where humanity is content to coexist for the time we spend in here as our lives unfold, as plans are made whether small plans or life changing ones like mine.

I end with a quote about moving on:

Nothing belongs to itself anymore.
These trees are yours because you once looked at them.
These streets are yours because you once traversed them.
These coffee shops and bookshops, these cafés and bars, their sole owner is you.
They gave themselves so willingly, surrendering to your perfume.
You sang with the birds and they stopped to listen to you.
You smiled at the sheepish stars and they fell into your hair.
The sun and moon, the sea and mountain, they have all left from heartbreak.
Nothing belongs to itself anymore.
You once spoke to Him, and then God became yours.
He sits with us in darkness now
to plot how to make you ours.”

Buffalo–a healing place (part 2 in a series called “home”)

The City of Buffalo, NY came into my life seemingly randomly in 1999.   I wanted to go home, but for various reasons, it wasn’t working out for me to go home to Duluth, Minnesota…and one day, I dreamed about a buffalo, running. When I woke up, I looked online for an apartment in Buffalo, and bing, bam boom, in an hour I’d got one.  The lady actually saved it for me for a couple of days so I could go and look at it. I loved it.  It was in a big old house, with a covered front porch, (I was soon to learn the second floor porch culture is alive and well in Buffalo–in summertime everyone is on the second floor porch sitting, or growing gardens, or barbecuing) and in two months’ time, I was moved to Buffalo.   Coming into the city, I saw a bald eagle sitting in a tree–the first live one I’d ever seen–and it seemed a powerful, positive sign that this is where I was meant to be.   I was newly divorced, with all of the confusion that goes along with that; having profoundly lost a sense of self in my life growing up which was only exacerbated by my marriage, I was coming to Buffalo having lost everything.  I did not know I would find myself both as a writer and as a woman.

Buffalo, called the”Queen City of the Lakes, positioned between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, is of course the “home” of hydroelectricity, with Nikola Tesla putting his first turbines here at Niagara Falls, whose water still power the US and Canadian sides of the river.   During the day, when I took this photo, Niagara shines with a light of its own.  Niagara, the waters of Iroquoian legend, where the Maid of the Mist, Lelawala, plummeted over the falls riding in her canoe mourning the death of her husband, and was caught by the god of thunder who brought her to live with him and nursed her back to health. She fell in love with him and married, and they both lived behind the Falls.  Gazing into the photo, the Rainbow Bridge spans the gorge and it is easy to see why the Rainbow Bridge has the name.

I spend much time these days gazing at the blue green waters of Niagara; I have come home a second time, again seeking healing.  I think about the love that is lost, and then the river reminds me of the nature we live in which is constantly renewing itself and that reminds me that maybe the love we give and the love we receive, whether it be from a lover, a husband, parents, family or friends is never really gone; it too renews itself and ebbs and surges like the water, like hope that there is something benevolent who created all we see, who created us to be one with Nature, and in Nature’s endless variety, variations and adaptions, there is always beauty to be found, even in our darkest hours, our deepest sadnesses. The leaves on the trees bud, leaf out, celebrate their lives all spring and summer,and then emerge victorious by not just fading out and falling, but exploding in the fireworks of colors that make endings not a thing to be feared, but a thing that is vibrant, and beautiful, that are not gone forever, but promise to return again anew in time; an endless cycle of life and death and rebirth.  That is what love is like, to me, even now in my sadness.  The truth of what I do not see tells me that  love is  never gone, never wasted, and will sprout and grow again in time, if we are patient, if we have faith, if we believe.   And in the meanwhile, in the between time, there is Buffalo, good friends, good foods from every culture imaginable, good music, of all varieties, art, all a celebration of all cultures and walks of life in its residents.   Life goes on during loss.  Life goes on during the blind times when we do not know where we are going; life goes on, and if we do not fear it, if we do not shut it out, it beckons endlessly for us to join in it and walk in faith to the next season and the next.

For now, this is home.  This is the place to heal, to let the waters wash over my soul.