Saturday, April 2, 2011

Coffee Shop

Last year, I had a few... issues. Basically, I felt like I'd painted myself into a corner. The really bad thing about that is, you can get so panicky about the situation that you can't see a way out. Some people get really depressed about this. I don't think I was depressed. Let's just say I had some angst. Maybe some Weltschmerz. Ennui? Anyway, whatever it was, I felt crappy enough that I wanted to talk to someone. So a wise friend told me about Family Services; I called them up and they put me through the intake procedure and said it might take a 3-4 months for someone to become available.
Actually, I think it was only two months. If that. Someone became available, and every few weeks I'd get on a bus headed south a few blocks and blurt out some of my problems to a lovely lady who had no ties to my life and who listened non-judgementally and sympathetically to my woes for half an hour. Sometimes I'd laugh; sometimes I snorfled my way through a few Kleenex, but it felt necessary for a while, anyway. I think on some level I was hoping that I'd have a momentous breakthrough- you know the ones where the light goes on above the patient's head and they cry: aha! I'm like this because of that! And they cry it all out for awhile and then... no more problem.
*Spoiler alert: that never happened to me.
Actually I still struggle with many of the same issues I had last year: poverty, instability, self-doubt. I know that I will have to work on those things for a long time. Maybe I'm still in a bit of a corner; it's just that it's not a bad corner to be in most of the time. There are friends and family in my corner with me. I have a window there, and most of the time I remember that if I want to walk out of there I may get some paint on my shoes but I probably won't die. Hell, we're all in some kind of corner, aren't we?
Anyway, one of the most therapeutic things about going to counselling was this place:

Most times I'd get off the bus and I'd be early for my session (because punctuality is NOT one of my issues), so I'd go to this coffee shop.
There's a lot of wood there. A pleasant view of the neighbourhood. Food that's actually made there, instead of being trucked in from some mass-producing bakery of blah.
Lots of times I'd take a tea along with me to Family Services, and it would sit with me through the next half hour, along with the kind lady who was listening to my problems.
When the sessions were over (I think the deal was a dozen, and I spread 'em out over four or five months), I wasn't magically 'cured'. My counsellor was sympathetic, but not much of a one for coming up with actual gameplans. But I'd talked out some of my troubles and I headed off to Barkerville and a much-needed injection of work and confidence. And I didn't have any need to be up in that neighbourhood anymore, so I didn't get to visit the coffee shop anymore.
Yesterday I passed through that neighbourhood on the way home from a rehearsal, and went back to the coffee shop for a snack. It was a good time to be there; not too busy, no lineup. They've expanded a bit, which is good, because they get pretty busy sometimes. I had a dark, strong Americano and a lemon tart.

A little boy saw me fiddling with my iPod and said "Do you have any games on there?" I admitted that I did. "Can I see?" he asked, and so I ended up letting him play a few rounds of Angry Birds while his father got him a snack. He was probably around four; still young enough to be totally trusting and careless of Stranger Danger. He leaned against me while he commandeered my iPod and I was happy to let him.
I could probably wrap this story up neatly by contrasting me in my dark times last year (unhappy, uncertain of everything) with this happy, confident little kid, but that feels a bit cheap. I will say that it was good to be back at this coffee shop, which is a special one in a town filled with far too many cookie-cutter coffee shops. It was good to have much longer hair and fewer pounds on me than last year. It was nice to feel the sun trying to poke through the clouds that have been too present lately. It felt really nice to be headed home and not to a counselling session.

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