I never thought that Starbucks would be my local coffee hangout. But it is. For a few years, Julie and I walked through El Encanto neighborhood chatting about our lives. Strolling around the hood sipping coffee was the perfect early morning walk, around three miles. The more we drank, the more ideas we came up with for networking, changing the world, and simple everyday solutions to tiny practical problems.
Julie and her husband will have their first tiny baby this month. I’m excited for them.
Over the years, we’ve become friendly with other neighbors over coffee, chai, and even green protein drinks brought from home. The forty-something couple are a kick. He’s often glued to his laptop, in supposed serious work mode when we arrive but is always ready with a funny story. He’s easily distracted. Just start talking in a Boston accent — he’s from Worcester — and we’re off. Probably too loud for everyone else, but hey, we’re regulahs.
An older, elegant neighbor is usually there reading the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. She’s an old-time Tucsonan who’s quick to talk about local history, tell us where to get the best mojito and lament the United States “turning Communist.” My attempts to find common ground, like about the mojitos, make me proud.
Then there’s the cheerful, retired couple. They’re playwrights, former international teachers who walk around Reid Park before treating themselves to their daily coffee. They’re such fun, always interesting and attentive. I’ll bet they were terrific teachers.
Since Julie hasn’t been walking lately, Dan walks with me a few times a week. We both enjoy our coffeewalks.
The owner of the most extravagant home renovation I’ve ever seen stopped by this morning. I count the number of work trucks parked in front of his house as we pass — anywhere from 13 to 19 on different days. I’d like to see what the place looks like when it’s done. Tucson’s Taj Mahal?
Mark Kelly came in with his teenage daughter once before she went to school. They were fast, quickly getting their coffee and taking off. It would be lovely for Gabby to be able to walk that far.
Today our around-the-corner neighbor arrived mid-conversation with the playwrights. I introduced them. He mentioned that his wife thought it was too far, and she would prefer to walk to the Rincon Market. Their coffee is better and cheaper than Starbucks, I’ll admit it.
So why do we go to Starbucks, the corporate giant? It’s not the coffee, that’s for sure, it’s the caffeinators. They’re the best.