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Seattle + San Juan Islands, WA

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Connections over coffee


What's in your Starbucks?

If you want to take the temperature of a town, drop in at the local Starbucks and spend about 15 minutes observing the goings-on. Seriously.


My guides wanted me to get to know Burien, WA because it’s my new “Seattle base of operations.” Ignoring the Spock-like voice of the male guide that was just speaking to me [you’re new], I was surprised by this. I figured that it would be Edmonds, a small town North of Seattle, where my daughter recently moved after my husband Mike relocated to southern California. But no daughter wants a regular visitor in her mother, I concede. This town’s geography is built upon an address grid of numbers which doesn't please me. It makes me feel a bit unsafe. My working memory for numbers is a sieve. If there is a silver lining for this, please let me know because I’ve yet to discover it.


You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to recognize a well-managed Starbucks, no matter how busy. These employees weaved around one another as if they were auditioning for a ballet, and there was ease both in the drive-up line-which wasn’t short-and the walk-in line where I was waiting. I notice the condiment table has no garbage overflow and is wiped clean.


As I’m just about to order, I hear a small female voice about 5 yards away, chirp: “Helll-ooo! Welcome to Starbucks! What can I get for you this morning?” in a voice that sounds like the cartoon bluebird from Snow White.


Well, that explains the positivity in the drive-up lane.


“Tall, flat white with coconut milk,” as we smile at one another in reflection of Miss Bluebird. I’m currently “on coffee.” I go off and on coffee and when I travel it’s a natural daily ritual that I’ve made peace with. As a healer, I’ve come to realize that coffee is either good for you or bad for you, and there’s no in between. For 20-25% of the population, and this range is a giant guess, it’s actually an elixir, supporting your lifestyle assuming you are fairly balanced. I’m not one of those people.


As I wait for my drink, I chat a little with the baristas behind the counter, asking about the store. It’s clean and the artwork is good. Believe me when I tell you that wall art in a restaurant can make or break the entire ambiance. As in chi. But what I am really doing is ease dropping on the stilted mom and son conversation that is trying to jump start at the bar.


I take my place at outer four o-clock, in front of an inner square of 8 seats all facing inward, two chairs astride. The side opposite facing me has two ugly gold ottomans in front of their chairs that look like they belong in Bill & Ted’s basement. Two men are relaxing with their feet propped up, ankle over ankle, and Mr. Hispanic with a handsome tattoo of an angel wing on his arm talks to Mr. Salt and Pepper-haired older white man with a more conservative air about him. An updated rain coat would do wonders for this man's wardrobe. I’ll call tattoo man Jake and the older man John.


Jake:

Yay, I’ve gotta agree. It’s a shame. Well…it’s about time I start my day.


As Jake climbs out of his pleather, John makes a brave move.


John:

So, what do you do?


Jake:

I’m a mechanic. I work at the [place-I-don’t-remember] right on Ambaum. You?


John:

I’m an accountant.


Jake:

Right on, right on…


Jake slips him hand into his rear jean pocket to grab his wallet and pulls out a crumpled card.


Jake:

My name’s Manny. Next time your car needs worked on, stop by. I’m happy to help.


Smooth.


John, standing and grabbing the card:

My name is Tom. Will do. Thanks.


Two things:

I love that people in the Northwest still say right on. I never say it but I didn’t grow up in the Northwest. It’s a bit of a verbal turn on for me every time I hear it.


Second, I just witnessed my own personal version of a miracle. And as I begin to outline the theme of this blog in my head, I watch mom and son stride over, plop down into the same seats, simultaneously landing their legs onto the ottomans, crossing at the ankle. They briefly smile at one another.


Who knew that the local Starbucks could provide such interesting theater?


Mom, looking down at her iced coffee, poking it with a straw:

You know, you don’t have to join football this summer just because your father thinks it’s a good idea.


And just like that, the 12 year old (?) turns his head sideways, clearly in an effort to save face, and I feel a slight energetic ripple pass through me straight from his heart. This was a wave of relief if I’ve ever felt one. He immediately checks his demeanor, poking his own ice, nodding like Joe Cool. He doesn't fool mom or me. There is happiness beneath that angst.

Beautiful.


There is one thing I’ve been convinced of since I formulated my own personal theology while attending Seattle U. God operates the cogs and wheels of our earthly realm through relation. And she is pretty amazing at it if you take the time to wake up to it.


And what I mean by this is that we live and operate in a world that is comprised of 99% energy and we are each in a constant flux with this energy world. We are essentially all living in a cosmic lava lamp, trying to do the best we can.


We communicate with each other and the world at large through our thoughts, behavior, and our presence. And by “we” I mean all sentient beings. Individuals, cultures, plants, ants, you name it.


So, when I witness these connections? These reach outs? As far as I’m concerned, these are miracles. It doesn’t take much to improve the state of affairs of your immediate surroundings. It was Albert Einstein who essentially said you can either look at the world as a miracle generator or not believe in miracles at all. I reside in Camp Einstein.


It’s time for me to start my own day and I’m feeling grateful for the visual lesson on why this is now my new Seattle hub. In Burien, WA at least, the kids are alright. ^_^

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