Posted by: alegra22 | April 9, 2009

showing up for coffee

even with my consumption habits this was the only artsy coffee related photo I could find

even with my consumption habits this was the only artsy coffee related photo I could find

This evening I was bustling around the house, knocking my knuckles against the furniture, stubbing my toes, and wondering why this was happening until I remembered I had earplugs in. I love my earplugs. I once mourned a pair I found on the bad end of my puppy’s digestive process. I have an ultra sensitive nervous system and earplugs act like pillows for my brain. But they also make me clumsy. A few bruises and missing toenails are a price I am willing to pay for peace.

As I cleaned, I became aware of my own heavy breathing trapped in my head, as if being stalked by my own ambition. Beneath the sound of my efforts, I was thinking about a conversation I had with a friend today over coffee. I walked away knowing there was a binding thread between us – I have this with certain people, actually most people active in my life today are ones I have had this sense about.

For example, the first time I met Dan he was working at the University gym, I took one look at him and thought, “Cocky personal trainer.” Followed by, “I don’t know how, but I can tell we’re going to be friends.” (yes, insert the song from Napolean Dynamite)

A week later I signed up for an exercise program evaluation (it was free, I was curious) and asked specifically for a female trainer. As I did it, I thought, “It’s going to be that guy. The cocky one.”

An hour before my appointment I received a phone call from the gym. My female trainer was sick and they wanted to know if I was comfortable with having a male trainer.

“Sure,” I said. I knew it was going to be Dan. It was. Six years and two kids later…well there you have it. I have learned to trust  my instincts with people.

I met my friend today at a cafe that was defined by chairs and tables placed in the middle of a shopping mall; the equivalent of having a picnic on a six lane highway. Noise swarmed around us and I clutched my treat, a gigantico sugar-free caramel latte, as my friend settled into his seat and said, “I have a story to tell you. I have been thinking about who I could tell it to and then I thought, I can tell Alegra this story.”

He changed something in me with those simple words: I have a story to tell you.

As he shared, complete with the branching side stories we both seem to have a talent for, another part of my mind kept thinking, “This is an honor. To be someone who is given stories.”

It is not the sort of story that can be told directly, I know I am going to be spending a long time thinking about it, being transformed by it.  Like nailing a butterfly to a board in an attempt to translate flight,  this isn’t a story that can be understood by holding it still.

Tonight, as I caused damage to myself in the name of domestic harmony, I thought about this story and how, in its intensity and conflict, it brought together the questions I have been asking myself in why I am writing this novel. I know its themes will continue to flit through my chapters and contemplations because it is a story that challenges me on the deepest level.

Sometimes, all we have to do in life is show up for coffee.



  1. “This is an honor. To be someone who is given stories.”

    I’m in complete agreement. To be the person that your friend thought of when he had a story he needed to share speaks highly of you. The fact that you recognized the significance of his words says even more.

    You can always tell writers, because they see stories as gifts, not opportunities to one-up the teller.

  2. Hello Tiffany,

    It was such a nice surprise to see you over here.

    This was one of those moments for me where the concept of being a writer shifted and in that shifting I understood the essence of what it means – what a gift it is to be handed a story as if I might be able to do something with it. In this case, the story was about someone whose life had just ended which made the weight of what I had been handed more tangible.

    Ugh. I don’t think I should try and compose comments at 5 a.m. in the morning when my dear husband has woken me up to go to the gym…

    …I am not a morning-gym person. But we have a babysitter. And coffee.


  3. Loving your words and savouring them more than an Alan Scott Reisling. Slight turmoil here with the family and working through an unexpected cacophony of ‘stuff’. Ah well. I don’t really know how to respond to this one today. A bit fogged-over I think. But reading your world was a wonderful refresher. I always love hearing your stories. You are an amazing story-teller. Sending hugs and love.

    • As usual you show up with the right words at the right time. I had just taken a break from writing my way through what feels like a whole lot of blah, blah, blah and here you were to brighten my moment.

      If you want to talk, just send me an IM and we can have a phone date.
      Thinking of you and sending all kinds of goodness.

  4. 🙂

  5. Some of my very favorite conversations and events have happened over coffee or the occasion to share some.

    And I agree: To be the recipient of stories is an honor. Thanks for sharing yours!

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