Life is Change.

Sixteen years ago I skipped swim practice to get an Italian soda with my teammate at Grounds For Coffee. At that time smoking was still allowed inside and there was a room where all the smokers sat to drink their coffee.

Thirteen years ago I started hanging out at that same coffee shop. Smokers had been relegated to the patio and that is where, for the next two years, I spent way too many hours drinking way too many cups of coffee and smoking way, WAY too many cigarettes. This is where I went to meet up with friends, to play backgammon, to solve crossword puzzles. My life practically revolved around GFC. My ex-boyfriend and I spent a lot of time there.

Eleven years ago I broke up with that boyfriend and quit going. I felt somehow out of place there. It's interesting how somewhere that was so comfortable, so familiar could become, almost instantly, cold. I felt great anxiety going there. I thought to myself, "What if I see someone I know? What if I see a friend of X's? What if I see X?" I quit going.

Eight years ago I started going back on Saturday mornings for coffee and bagels with T. We walked the four blocks downhill and the four blocks back up when the weather was good and drove when it wasn't. We shared 3 bagels because at the time I was pregnant and one bagel was not enough. I grew comfortable there. It felt so warm and familiar again.

After L was born, we continued to go on Saturdays for a while. Mostly when the weather was good and we could walk. Little by little L grew older and soon enough she was asking for her own cup of coffee. So we ordered her a "kid coffee". Which is really just a soy steamer with carmel syrup in it. She always requested extra whipped cream.

And then something happened. We quit going.

I'm not really sure what it was, but we just quit going. Sure, we would occasionally stop on the way to work or school and grab a cup but our Saturday routine had been altered. Perhaps our Saturdays became too full. We were too busy going to gymnastics or soccer games or running errands to continue this tradition.

One year ago T started going back on a semi-regular basis and has met a lot of people there. He has made a lot of friends. He stops in at least once a day now. Usually just to say hi or see what is going on. There may come a point when he quits going.

Over the years GFC has gone through a lot of changes too. The interior has changed several times and is now a more sophisticated place. The exterior has changed as well, from one with a sort of run down patio full of smokers to a patio with a beautiful wrought iron gate where smoking is no longer allowed. The back of the building now displays the most amazing, vibrant mural depicting a garden full of plants and animals. And the property will soon be home to several small thriving gardens.

A lot of the changes in my own life can be compared to those I've experienced at GFC. There have been times when I have felt really good in my own skin and other times when I have felt out of place and not so comfortable. And at times I've felt cold and anxious. I was too busy to realize these changes were happening. I think I'm at a place right now where I'm beginning to feel comfortable again. I feel like I'm beginning to grow and thrive. Perhaps in time I, too, will be like that mural. Vibrant.

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