“I think everyone should have a coffee shop. A place that’s yours, you know? Not for the coffee but just to have a place where you know people and they know you. I have a theory that people go to coffee shops to feel less alone. Even if you don’t talk to anyone, I think somehow you feel less alone. I think that’s why I come here.” (Jamie Tworkowski)
A trip home isn’t a full and true trip home if it doesn’t include an afternoon spent at Chapters, the little coffee shop nestled on the corner of College St. & 99W, where I know people and they know me. Where I am guaranteed to know or at least recognize one of the baristas behind the counter, a barista who more often than not doesn’t need me to tell them my drink order, but remembers it from the years I spent every lunch and open period in the overstuffed green armchair by the window.
It was the last place I stopped on my way to the airport when I first left for Biola, and it’s the last place I stop when it’s time to fly back to the golden state, purchasing as many bags of Stumptown coffee as will fit in my suitcase. It’s the coffee shop that once upon a time was a fitness center that was owned by a much younger and poorer version of my parents, years before I arrived on the scene. Chapters is more than a coffee shop; it’s history and it’s home.
For me and my friends, Chapters is the roof under which we become reacquainted when we are lucky enough to venture home for holidays, sibling’s graduations, and summer breaks, though we seem to make it home for less and less of these the older we get. When we make plans to get together, where? is never a question; it’s just assumed that we’ll meet where we always have, where we always did. It’s where we met before and after school, where we met for lunch, where we met when we couldn’t handle our parents or needed to hash out our latest heartache, where we did homework and celebrated birthdays.
There’s something sacred about that space that allows us to forget about term papers and student loans and the ever looming, what are you doing with your life question, and remember who we were and what we wanted before those things took up residence on the cross streets of Grown Up and Worries in our minds.
And it’s where I sit this morning, listening to the familiar sounds of the espresso machine and hometown chatter, early to meet a dear friend that I have not seen in far too long. And I think Jamie’s right; everyone should have a coffee shop. Everyone should have a place that’s history and home, a place to come back to and keep coming back to. A place that reminds you of who you’ve been, a place that you can call yours and feel less alone.