What Matters: The long ride after the longest ride.

This is a new segment of my blog. It’s called What Matters.

Millennials are supposedly the loneliest generation. We have the luxury of connecting with each other in more ways than what has been possible in the past. With the emerging of the internet and social media, we can connect with humans across the world from us, instantaneously. So, why are we so lonely?

We live in a society where no one talks about their real life. Maybe it’s from the stigma and shame of vulnerability. We think no one wants to know how we are really feeling, so we respond with “I’m good, how are you?” 

We choose to show how we want to be seen by posting our active moments, our adventurous selves, and our beautiful faces on social media. We cover our blemishes, our scars, with filters. Even those not participating in the social media world put filters on themselves and what they share with others. Nobody gets that close to anyone. What we give are the good looking framed pieces of our lives. 

So, this segment is meant to shed light on the real moments of life. On the moments that we don’t talk about, the moments that we don’t think anybody cares about. Really, the moments that we are scared to share. Because life is not all good. We forget that we all lose our cool sometimes. This is not meant to be a pity party, or me venting, but to show pivotal moments in my life that are real, are ugly, and even embarrassing. Because I am not just the filtered cropped pictures on my socials, and neither are you. If we share ourselves with each other more, really become transparent with one another, we may realize that we are more relatable with each other than we thought. From there, maybe we can beat the loneliness that consumes our generation.

Every moment in our life matters. Our feelings matter. The small things matter.

So, I want to share my moments. Because they mean something to me. I might leave out the backstory. I might leave it vague. But, I aim to share some small parts of my story, my life, that would normally get shoved under the rug and never spoken about. 

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THE LONG RIDE AFTER THE LONGEST RIDE

Sitting there, after ripping my own heart out just hours ago, I hold a carnation given to me by a stranger. I feel every bump of the shuttle ride. I shift around my backpack on my lap and stare at a spot on the floor.  I feel eyes on me by the people sitting across from me. I know they can tell I’ve been crying. I let it stain my face. I don’t care. I sit there with a broken heart and a shattered frame of mind, flower in hand. When I get home I put the flower in a glass of water. The next morning it starts to show signs of wilting. The next day even more so. I let it sit on my kitchen table until it bends low below the rim of the glass, dead in a puddle of water.

The Denver Café Chronicles—Prodigy Coffee

Mission: Every week I visit a new café/coffee shop in Denver, and write an article that has 2 segments. The first part, “the fact,”  is my experience at the café, a review if you will, how I’m feeling, what I see, etc… The second part, “the fiction,” consists of a fictional story that I come up with while at the café. I grab onto my surroundings, the vibes, and my feelings to inspire the short story.
fact
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It is a hot, hot day. I’ve been outside for the majority of it, and all I want is an ice cold caffeinated beverage. I’ve got some time to kill in between my work day so I decide to find a coffee shop along my route. I find a few nearby but there’s a name that stands out to me which is five minutes out of my way. Googling the photos of this coffeehouse, I’m attracted to the bright murals painted on the outside of the building. Pulling up to Prodigy Coffeehouse, I notice the shop is its own building with large garage-style doors. There are people spread out working on their computers and meeting with people. The vibes are fresh and cool as I walk into the shop, music is softly bumping. I’m greeted by two pleasant baristas. I ask about a drink on the menu and the barista politely explains it’s just a frozen drink, similar to “their friends across the street”. I look over his shoulder out the large barn door windows to see what he’s talking about realizing immediately that it’s Starbucks. I order myself an iced homemade chai and ask him to throw some espresso in it. He doesn’t ask me how much, but smiles and nods his head as he types it into the computer. I also order a cheesecake brownie, because well, brownie.

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There is a lot of open seating available, inside and out. I like the vibes inside, so I choose a booth next to a closed glass garage door. I like booths because I can easily sit cross-legged in them. There’s a cute large pup sleeping on the floor next to my spot. I pretty much devour my brownie in a matter of seconds, to the point where the last few bites are tasteless due to the sugar overload on my tongue. I sit enjoying my brownie, taking sips of my iced chai and look around the room. The coffee bar is made up of these cool looking green ceiling tiles, the kind you might find on the ceiling of an old pub. I notice I’m surrounded by my favorite color, lime green. There are quotes on the wall and my favorite one says “it is certainly true that you can’t judge a book by its cover, nor can you judge a book by its first chapter—even if that chapter is twenty years long.” For some reason, that one resonates with me.

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I’m noticing that I am becoming extremely sweaty sitting in this booth. Half of my body is in direct sunlight, and it’s enough to make me move to a table out of the sun. It’s no booth, but I still manage to find myself sitting cross-legged in the chair. A nice breeze blows on me from the open garage doors. This coffeehouse is possibly one of my favorite cafés I’ve been to yet. The openness of the building with the glass garage doors, the concrete floors and countertops, the booth and table seating, the hip music playing above, and the trendy yet simple menu all create this very familiar yet unique vibe. This place just feels cool. But not the too cool kind of place. The kind of place that I could see myself sitting in during the middle of the day in shorts, often. I’m so content sitting here, but I get a tad sidetracked when I stumble across videos of adults seeing colors for the first time. I’m literally crying in the middle of this coffeehouse and I love it.

 

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fiction

Jim and Carrie sit at the end of the old wooden dock and let their feet dangle above the water. The pot roast Jim started a few hours ago has about 30 more minutes until it’s ready. Every Sunday, they make a nice dinner, spend time outside together, and make sure that their phones are away left charging in their room. Sunday is their day.

“I promise, I will pick up the poop!” Carrie yells at him with a giant smirk on her face.

“No way in hell. We do not have the time for a puppy right now!” Jim never had pets as a child and doesn’t relate with Carrie on her want to get a dog.

“But we have this huge yard. Just imagine little Jimmy jumping off this dock playing catch!”

“Okay, so first off, if we get a dog, it will definitely not be named after ME. Second off, I love you.” He pauses as he smiles and looks into her hopeful eyes. “Third off, maybe in a couple years.”

“YEARS! Nooooo,” she wails. “I simply cannot accept that answer.” She is folding her arms now like a child would in any tantrum. Her lips are pursed and her chin is raised to the sky. “I’m gonna convince you, just you wait.” She quickly swings her feet onto the dock, jumps up, then bends down to kiss the back of his neck. “You’ll see,” she whispers into his ear. He jumps up, and she pulls away from him and sprints down the dock to the grass. He chases after her and grabs her by the waist. He pulls her toward him and raises her off the ground, spinning her around twice.

“You and your puppy dreams are going to be the downfall of my very successful garden.” He plants a full kiss on her lips and sets her back on the ground. 

“Ha!” She spits back at him. “You mean THAT very successful garden?” She points to four wilting tomato plants across the yard.

“It has been a bad rain season!” He exclaims back at her.

“Oh my god, YOU are the one that can’t handle a puppy. I’ll come home to it dead after a business trip and you’ll say something dumb like ‘it never made itself dinner!” 

“Exactly!”

Carrie rolls her eyes. Smiling, she pulls herself away from Jim, takes his hand and leads him back to the house. The kitchen smells so good of pot roast. The evening has gotten chilly and the house still has some warmth left in it from the warm day.

“Hey babe, can you put the garlic bread in? I’ll make the salad.”

“Oh, you mean your famous lettuce and cheese?” Carrie shot back to him as she places the bread in the oven.

“Hey now, simplicity is the best.”

“Simplicity is boring. And tasteless.” Carrie moves behind Jim and grabs a couple fresh tomatoes she bought from a farmers market earlier that morning. “See, THIS is what you could have. Someday. Definitely, after we get our puppy.”

“Oh! I promise you. We will have fresh homegrown tomatoes long before we have a puppy.” He replies back, shredding a block of cheese.

“I won’t hold my breath.” She takes out a cutting board from the cabinets under Jim, and slices up the tomato. “Oh, I forgot!” She excitedly jumps and prances over to the fridge. “I picked up this awesome balsamic vinaigrette at the market this morning. The old man selling it was so cute. I had like a 10-minute conversation with him.” She handed it to Jim and he looked it over.

“Cool bottle,” he says. He opens it up and puts a couple drops onto his finger. “Mmmm.” He then proceeds to slowly pour it over the lettuce. “I think we have some pine nets left over from the other night.” Carrie went over to the pantry and grabbed the small bag of nuts.

“See!” Jim shouted. Way more than just lettuce and cheese.”

“Barely, babe.” She smacks his butt and takes out 2 wine glasses from the open cupboard. “Got this too.” She waves a wine bottle above her head.

“Nice.” He smirks at her while he mixes the salad.

She places the glasses down with a slight clank. Jim turns into Carrie, grabs her face with both hands and gives her a hard kiss on her forehead. Carrie crinkles her nose as he pulls away.

“Your hands are so wet,” she says as she dramatically wipes her face with the sleeve of her shirt and gives him a big side smile as she turns to open the wine bottle.

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We get hit with blows. Right to the face.

When I’m going through what feels like a shit storm, I let myself feel it all. I become super-aware of my emotion. I let it sink into me, and I sit with it.

And then, I get up. I turn the water on and wash my hands.

I sit on the couch like it’s Tuesday.

I laugh when it’s funny.

I focus when I need to.

I create.

Because at a moment, a brief random stupid moment, that damn storm blows right back into my face.

And it’s hard.

For a couple seconds.

For a few minutes.

Hell, for an entire hour.

I sit in that storm and let the water run down my hair and into my eyes.

I find peace when I hold my breath, and then slowly let it out. It’s then that I remember it was something great. So, I smile.

The Denver Café Chronicles—2914 Coffee

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It takes me a minute to fit my car into a spot on the side of the road. But, wishing I had one of those fancy rear cameras only crossed my mind once before I decided that I, in fact, have successfully parallel parked. Stepping out, proud, I look up and see a cute neighborhood pub with a red door and small square tables outside of the front. I’m almost tempted to set up my laptop right there instead of the coffee shop I am headed to. As I’m walking to the coffee shop, I pass two women who are talking about how great this area is to live in because it has everything you need. And I’d agree.

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I’m feeling pretty snazzy sitting here in the same shirt that I wore to bed last night. There’s something about wearing my PJs out in public that I just dig. 2914 Coffee is a cute little coffee shop tucked away in a cute urban neighborhood just 5 minutes away from my place. Now, sitting in the shop, I’m looking out the large windows in front of me and am wishing I lived in one of the apartments with a balcony across the street. I feel a quaintness here while upbeat Saturday afternoon music plays overhead. Coffee grounds are being poured into the espresso machine, and the cinnamon I sprinkled over my cappuccino smells familiar and lovely. It’s one of those refreshing days where you can’t help but smile when you step outside. It’s a bright morning, and it feels almost too warm in this coffee shop.  But I like it. I was worried this place would be busy since I got a later start to my day after deciding to make myself banana pancakes. But, I’m pleasantly surprised to have found several tables open with the sun shining off them, clean and bright.IMG_0933.JPG

An older man sitting behind me in a small area with a red couch, red chairs and a coffee table shuffles some papers together and stands up to leave. On his way out, he passes the barista and gives a pleasant, “so long” to her. “So long,” she says back with a soft smile. This interaction makes me want to go “mmm.” It’s like the kind of “mmm” after you take a bite of crème brûlée, soft and rich in your mouth with a bitter crisp finish. I decide right then that I am going to make an effort to add the phrase “so long” to my social farewells.

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I sit and enjoy my surroundings for a few moments resting my chin on my hand as I look over past my laptop. Bon Iver starts to play overhead as the sunlight dims a bit in the shop. A sleepy Saturday gaze seems to sweep over everyone. I look around and notice the quiet, the stillness of the place and everyone in it. The barista moves quickly clearing a table in front of me. But even her quick footsteps on the wood floor vibrate slowly under my boots and make me sink deeper into this brief moment of stillness before the sun peeks back in, reflecting off every table. Just in the nick of time, a guitar quickly strums overhead.

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The Fiction

Edward sits in his armchair as the early morning light starts to peek into his living room. The small wood round table that he places his coffee on has stained rings all over it from his dislike of coasters. The wood floors absorb the warmth of the sun, he can feel it on his bare feet as he walks over to crack a window open to let a breeze in. It’s a warm morning, and the breeze feels cool as it lightly sweeps into his living room. The tall green plants he has sitting on the window sill sway slightly. He goes back to his chair and sinks deep into its warm leather. He picks up his coffee cup. Realizing it is quite hot, he holds it to his lips and lightly blows on it while he gazes out in front of him into the sunlit room. He can feel the breeze sweep past his face, and the smell of his coffee is strong and bold. He takes a small sip. Too hot still, he places it back onto the wet ring on the table. He takes his legs up and folds them close into his chest before relaxing them onto the arm of the chair. His grandkids are coming over today for breakfast. He’s planning on packing a picnic of meats and cheeses, and fresh fruit from his garden. He’ll have them pick the fruit themselves before they leave, he decides. They love using the outside hose to wash off the fruits and vegetables they pick. Smiling, he gets up and goes into the kitchen, opens up the fridge and takes out a glass pitcher of fresh squeezed orange juice. He pours himself a glass, slowly, enjoying the smooth sounds the juice makes as it hits the inside of the glass. He always loved how freshly squeezed juice foams up at the top. Since he was a kid he’s enjoyed trying to sip only the bubbles up before taking full gulps of the juice. He breaks off a piece of coffee cake that is sitting in the middle of the kitchen table and goes back to his armchair. He sets the glass of orange juice down next to his coffee. He takes a bite of his heavily cinnamoned coffee cake and takes a sip of coffee. It’s cooler now. He takes 2 more bites of his cake, finishing it off. Brushing the crumbs off his fingers onto his pant leg, he picks up his glass of orange juice. Taking a slow sip of the pulpy beverage, he notices the ring that was just left on the side table from the cup. He chews some of the pulp left in his mouth and places the cup back down onto the orange juice ring. The doorbell rings just as the heavy front door creaks as it quickly opens, and quick little footsteps run over the wood floors into the living room. 

Mission: Every week I will visit a new café/coffee shop in Denver. The daunting part of this plan is that I intend to write, blog, at each one. My idea is to have 2 segments. The first part, “the fact,” of the blog will be my experience at the café, a review if you will, how I’m feeling, what I see, etc… The second part, “the fiction,” will consist of a fictional story that I come up with while at the café. I’ll be grabbing onto my surroundings, the vibes, and my feelings to inspire a short story.

Perspective is the new happiness

A prompt. I’m always looking for one, hoping to stumble upon something that will get my ass moving in a particular direction. A prompt to do something, make a move, think a certain way. I could call it inspiration, but that word itself is daunting and often is seen as aloof when the lack of inspiration is what is causing the distraught disposition. So, a prompt is something more obtainable, less threatening.

Give me a word, I’ll expand on that.

Give me a feeling, I can expand on that too.

Maybe through a prompt, I can find, feel really, the inspiration that I want.

I want something to prompt my writing, I want something to prompt my motivation to workout, to eat healthily, to find a new mindset, essentially, to be happy. Because I’m finding happiness comes and it goes. It’s something I have to be mindful about. Because when I find myself not doing so hot, or letting my emotions get the best of me, I realize that I let my happiness run away from me. And that’s ok, sometimes I need to feel things other than happy to get a real grasp on my reality in order to live in a perspective that shows me what’s real, where I need to go, and how I should handle certain things. Because even though I can try to constantly be happy, life has its own agenda that sometimes does not match mine. When that happens, I realize happiness is not what I need to hold onto, but rather perspective. Just like happiness, perspective changes—it comes and goes and has different forms. It is what shows me new happiness, it helps me feel different, good. Good or bad, it definitely presents both, and in that perspective, I can realize that happiness doesn’t have to be stable. Realizing that happiness shifts makes the downs and the emotional rollercoasters easier to handle. Easier to navigate around.

I’m hard on myself, I know this. I constantly feel like I should be doing more, which boosts up my stress levels and I find anxiety is the only hand I’m holding.

I talk a lot of talk, preach a lot of preach, and struggle daily trying to hold myself up to my words. I find myself in a catch-22 often, or at least I feel that way.

Perspective. That’s one word that I really do think makes the entire difference. It’s what makes things important. It’s what makes things make sense. It directs happiness and shows you where you place your joy. In search of the perspective that I need, I often find myself aware of the lack of such a view and find myself grasping onto what I believe is true without realizing the possibility of an alternate reality. This is where we find ourselves getting taken out at the kneecaps, where our breath gets beat out of us, and we feel like we’re in a well with walls 1000 feet high. We get stuck in something that seems perpetual and we take it as so. Our ignorance keeps us from seeing past the walls that we put up. Our misery keeps us there, whispering sweet nothings into our ears until we feel that where we are is where we belong. It’s not until a passerby comes along to get some water that we realize there was a bucket and rope hanging right above us, we just had to look up.

p i e c e s

Being all of myself, that’s just not something I do.

I let my ambitions ride on magic carpets to places I don’t know. I let my heart stay with the people I love and have loved. I let my ideas float around me just beyond my full grasp.

If you call it reckless, if you call it susceptible, if you call it foolish, you’re right.

I am that.

But if I can get to a place I can’t imagine yet, then I’ll let myself fly to get there.

If vulnerability is what my core is made of, then my heart is not meant just for me.

If when I look out of myself and am able to see pieces, well I know I have something to make.

I am not whole.

I am places, people, and things.

Feeling at peace with myself is feeling alive in what I dedicate my life to, in the things that I feel worthy, and in the people who I choose to care about. My feeling of belonging, of happiness, of identity, comes from not only the pieces of me I decide to walk in, but also the pieces of me that I let free.

Purple Rain

You think she is just a happy girl eating ice cream. She has a smile on her face as she walks through the crowd of happy people watching the outdoor concert. So yeah, you wouldn’t question where her smile stems from.

But there’s something else to her story, like there usually is.

She wishes her story could be as simple as it looks. She wishes that moment in the crowd was an easy smile.

What you missed was the person walking ahead of her, the person she was following. The distance between them grew. She couldn’t see his face, so she held her own expression. She wore a smile, and she remembers it felt good.

As his strides got longer, she felt more alone. But, she realized she was on her own the whole time anyway, so she continued to smile.

She decided to feel the grace of the moment around her. When she passed other people, she saw a joy that she couldn’t help but smile with. She felt the passion of the music being played on the stage behind her and she couldn’t help but sway with it. She had a smile on her face and as she looked at the people she was passing by, they smiled back at her. She was living in a moment, and it looked easy.

But the person walking ahead of her must have had a different determination. When she turned to watch a song that caught her attention, he didn’t follow. With a hard face, he stood his ground. Maybe it was because he couldn’t hear the same piano she heard when she was a kid and feel the joy that song always gave her. He didn’t feel the sacred melody that moved through everybody else in the crowd. Even so, why did he have to stay back?

She turned back to him thinking he’d be by her side, but instead found him 5 paces away standing there, waiting for her. She gave him a playful smile inviting him to join her, but I guess he didn’t see it. He only came up to her to tell her “c’mon let’s go.” She bit her lip, held her breath while she took a spoonful of her ice cream, took one more gaze at the stage, and turned around to go with him. It was the pivot of her foot that sent her in a direction away from that moment. But she didn’t protest. She took another bite of her ice cream and continued to sway with the music as she walked behind him. She swayed and sang up the steps, through the entrance, up the elevator, and to their door. She stopped when the door shut behind her and she found herself in the quietest room in the whole building.

He doesn’t even realize what he just silenced.

The man who walks ahead of her doesn’t seem to care. He couldn’t know her because he never turns around to see her.

He says she’s crazy.

He doesn’t know that is the worst thing she could hear from him.

She’s become exhausted, over time. Exhausted trying to show him the good, what she sees. She feels like she’s screaming at the top of her lungs, but no, she’s standing in front of him struggling to get the right words out. With him like this, her heart feels like it drops into the acid of her stomach, over and over again.

You see, it’s not an easy smile.