Coffee Shop

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I’m in a coffee shop in Madison with cappuccino, wi-fi and time.  This is a place I often imagine myself and hardly ever really experience.  In my imagined life I have boundless time to sit in a cafe and be creative, or read, or just watch the life of whatever city I’m visiting move through.

Coming to Madison this weekend for a visit with David’s family, I thought maybe I could make it happen, I could actually get to a coffee shop with some open time and sit and read and write and just be.  And here I am.

But the path here is not what I expected, though this particular cafe is playing the role well. It’s an independent coffee shop (Starbucks just doesn’t work for this particularly fantasy) with interesting cards, a bucket of slogan buttons by the cash register, coffee accessories, and a fairly spectacular railing for the upstairs seating area — circles of metals and looping silver chains, the kind of repeating and swirling patterns I draw myself when I doodle.

Sam called yesterday with unexpected news.  Marianna has been offered a job in Tennessee, so their planned move to Boston for Sam to go to BC graduate school may be taking a 180 degree reverse turn.  We talked twice yesterday, as they’re trying to sort out what their best move is, how real is this offer, what does this do to Sam’s plans, just simply, what should they do?

Early this morning I heard my phone buzzing.  I got up to check to see who had called. Natalie, Eric’s mother, was in the hospital last week and is now in a rehab facility, and I wanted to be sure it wasn’t someone from Connecticut calling.  It was Sam and Marianna.  I tried going back to sleep but couldn’t.  David was still sleeping, so I left the room to call them back.

“Guess what?” Sam said.  “I won a 37 foot, two bedroom camper trailer in a raffle!”  He and Marianna are camping with her father at a music festival, and Sam bought two tickets for a charity raffle.  And then won.

“Do you and David want it?”  David and I do talk a lot about our plans to take off and travel the country, teardrop trailer in tow.  Sam wanted to be sure we didn’t want to amend our vision of what will be following our VW Passat wagon.  “I really don’t know what to do with it.”

And isn’t that just what life is?  Right turn swerves, then left turn swerves, tumbling chances and changes.  We’re in Madison because we’d planned to come to a family wedding here and then that fell apart, but a good number of the wedding guests came anyway and there was a wonderful gathering of lively and interesting people last night.  Sam and Marianna were moving to NH in two weeks, to spend the summer with David and me before moving to Boston.  Now they may be staying in Tennessee.  I was planning to spend the rest of my life with Eric and then he died.  Now I’m in the big, interesting life of another man and in places I never expected to be.

Like Madison.  Except for a long time I’ve expected to be in this coffee shop.

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About Grace Mattern

Grace Mattern is a poet, writer, mother, grandmother, partner, friend, family member, gardener, triathlete, hiker and for 30 years was the Executive Director of the NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. She resigned her position at the Coalition on June 15, 2011 in order to concentrate on her writing, while continuing to engage in the movement to end violence against women as a consultant and advisor. Her chapbook Fever of Unknown Origin was published in 2001 and her full-length poetry book The Truth About Death was published in 2012.
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