When there were only two coffee shops in town, you had your pick between Cup of Coffee, a large coffee shop with lots of seating and lots of windows (so many it feels fish-bowl-esque) and Vic's, which was downtown so you'd have to find parking or walk (or find parking and then walk). This was not, for any kid in their late teens, "the promise land." When you asked around, no one was looking towards graduation and saying, "I think I'll stay here."
At first, things changed slowly. Too slow too notice even. A restaurant went in one year and just sat for a while, becoming an icon of main street in it's own time. A few years later a new coffee shop opened, and it was far cuter than the original two. They sold coffee from an old-timey house that was full of character, called their shop "Bitter Sweet" and encouraged you to sip your drink from their patio. Bitter Sweet turned on twinkle lights after sun down and served wine.
Then it was like dominos. Almost the entire west side of Main Street was revamped. It feels like it happened over night but these things take time. I was in college, and every time I came back it looked different: A new barbeque joint replaced something that none of us remember. A taco shop went in next door (a second went in around the corner, because every small town needs a selection when it comes to tacos), and a new ice cream parlor opened up down the block. The old ice cream shop has since closed. The new shop serves flavors someone could've made up on a whim, like Honey Maple Grapefruit and Apple Pie. In terms of ice cream shops, it's pretty darn good.
Next came, an artisan bakery that serves espresso and sandwiches. Pizza. A new yoga studio. A kitchen store 😍. You get the picture.
Living in the town you grew up in never had much appeal. Part of me never even considered it as an option. The way my mom spoke of her hometown probably reinforced this. The way my dad spoke of the suburbs certainly did. I was young, I had plans! I was going places. I wasn't sure where, but I was getting my degree in Spanish and that was certainly going to take me somewhere.
It's a mixed bag when you tell people, "I'm from here," because part of you is so proud that you--yes, you!- are the one native left on the block. You are the O.G. Other than that small nugget of pride, part of you also shrinks inside: "Hi, I'm me, and I'm still right here where I've always been."
Not a century ago, generations on generations stayed in the same home town. Today, it comes with such a stigma. And what for? This town has grown with me. I have grown with it. I have seen plenty of other towns. They were great. This one is too. So I'm taking all of the feelings that come with that stigma, and I'm balling them up, and I'm throwing them out the window. Will you join me? Toss out the heaviness you feel when you explain why you are where you are, and instead wear it with pride (this goes for anyone, where ever they are--home town or not). You worked hard for it, after all. (This is a technique a sports psychologist taught me: Bad day? Ball it up, and flush it down the toilet. Let go.)
Yields: 4 cups | Total Time:
- 1/4 cup ground coffee of choice
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup or sweetener of choice
- 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, loosely packed
- 1 liter water
- Place all ingredients in a pitcher and put in fridge. Allow to seep for 24 hours.
- Remove from fridge and strain coffee through a coffee filter or even a very fine mesh tea stainer into serving glasses/mugs. Serve with ice and milk or cream as desired.