There is something about the ambiance of coffee shops that transforms and deepens human relationships. About two months after I started college, I went downtown to the Electric Brew for coffee with my mom. We got our steamy drinks, sat down at a cozy table for two, and slowly began to let our guards down.
In three hours, we exchanged stories of our own happiness and struggles, opinions on the war and other worldly issues, and generally caught up on each other’s lives. She revealed her struggles with her stressful job and my somewhat difficult younger brother Brian, while I depicted my exhaustion from a combination of soccer, schoolwork, finding new friends, and generally getting a feel for this whole college thing.
It was in that conversation that our relationship transformed from one of a mother and daughter to an adult friendship. From this and many other Electric Brew experiences, I have come to believe that coffee shops hold the meaning of life within their doors.
Coffee shops have always been one of my main venues for building relationships. I have gone on numerous first dates there, as well as second dates and third and so on. I have rekindled old relationships, started new ones, and transformed existing ones. The warm, friendly, informal atmosphere allows me to feel a sense of intimacy with others.
The Electric Brew located in downtown Goshen has always been my coffee shop of choice partly because of the artsy atmosphere but also because they make a mighty fine Irish cream latte. This place, along with the top notch coffee, gives me a warm feeling inside, one that relaxes me, helps me put the stress of my life aside, and just live in that moment with whomever I am with at the time.
It is also a place where I can escape by myself. In high school, if I would ever feel a need to avoid my occasionally draining family, I would go to the Brew with my homework, a book, or a journal and just be free. I came to value that alone time in my life. It gave me a chance to process life in an environment that soothed me instead of adding to my stress. It was here I learned to take care of my own needs with amazing coffee and peanut butter cookies, while also allowing myself to be rejuvenated for whatever lay ahead.
The meaning that I have discovered for my own life includes one of relationship building and self-discovery. I want my life to revolve about people, myself included, but especially interactions with the world through the eyes of individuals. I believe coffee shops allow everyone a chance to escape the mundane and tell their story in a personal yet public place. When I met with my mom for coffee, we found ourselves really connecting in new ways and opening up to some of our true feelings that had been bottled up for so long. We understood each other better because the setting freed us from other daily distractions that often got in the way of open conversation.
Coffee shops have always given me a sense of ease. I can feel comfortable sharing with others and growing in my relationships with them. And this personal interaction, I believe, is one of the most important aspects of my life.
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