The Altars I Didn't Mean to Leave Behind

I couldn't tell you how many times I sat in this cafe, books and headphones and words strewn across its population of worn tables. How many times have I taken refuge within these brick walls, been nourished by the scent of baking pies blossoming from the kitchen, sipping coffee and writing and writing and writing?

I couldn't count. I couldn't possibly.

I've lived in this mountain-circled valley for, god, over ten years now. I was not born here, did not grow here. How can I be old enough to have ten years in any new place?

I am old enough (oh god) and I have passed so much time in this coffee shop, lived much. I even worked here for a time, slinging espresso not very confidently. I even hung my art here for a time. How this place has held me.

And after all this time, all this life spent here, held here, it has become something of a an involuntary, everyday altar that I didn't mean to leave but left nonetheless. A measuring stick, a marker stone against which I can press my soul and feel all the past iterations of myself and know with the deep knowing just how very far I've come.

When I come here, I can't help but remember.

When I come here, I can't help but feel grateful.

When I come here, I can't help but feel a bit sad over the passing of time even while I am so, so glad to be more healthy and more whole than I was before, than I have perhaps ever been.

I come to this cafe, and sip its coffee and nibble on pie, and I breathe in, wide and deep, and know, and am, and am glad.

Me, 9 years ago.

Me, 9 years ago.