Today I walked up to the counter, a sincere smile on my face and enthusiasm behind my voice.
“Hey there.” When you’ve frequent the place for years, you can be casual like that, you know? “Do you have any more of those egg white sandwiches?”
“The turkey bacon kind?” He sifted through the fridge, then held up what I was looking for.
“Yep. Ah, oh good, I’ll have one of those. And a tall skinny vanilla latte, please.”
I handed over my Starbucks Gold Card and said, “I have another free one on there.” There are rewards to working a couple days a week in a coffee shop, after all.
The barista looked at my card, then turned to his buddy and said, “I was right! Amy.” Then he turned back to me, “We can never remember your name. Everybody else’s, but never yours. But today I was right, I was going to guess ‘Amy’.”
“Well, I can’t blame you, I don’t know your names either. I’m a face person. Terrible with names. As for me, people can never remember my name because I look like everybody. I’m the girl next door. Non-descript, yet familiar.”
“Bryce.” I said, reading his nametag. Then I looked to the other barista, “And your name is…?”
“Well, now you’re the person we had this conversation with so we won’t forget,” said Bryce.
“You mean the ‘Amy’ you had the conversation with,” I joked.
“Yes, thank you, Amy.”
“Thank you, Bryce.”
Hmm. Now they know me. They know my name. And I’m not sure how I feel about that. Because things happen to me here. Things beyond the coffee drinking and the sandwich eating.
This is where the door to my soul opens. This is where I read others’ words that move me. This is where I write my own words that expose me. This is where I dig down deep and acknowledge that the letters I put on a page mean more to me than I care to admit. They speak my truths.
Sometimes they flow so freely, it’s like phrases are dancing through the room just waiting to land on the page. Other times they gasp for air, wanting desperately to be given life — no matter how hard I struggle to find them, to shed light on them.
And it turns out, this intense process and struggle isn’t entirely internal. There are days — a lot of them really — when my thoughts are accompanied by tears. Sometimes a simple drop rolls quietly down my face. Those are the days I think my emotional explorations may have gone unnoticed by the faces around me. But some days? Well, some days I can truly feel my heart opening up, and it doesn’t look so pretty. My awkward eye wiping and sniffling becomes dramatically more obvious, and — I imagine — totally strange to the average onlooker.
I had one of those days last week. The last time I was here. I walked into this Starbucks with a puffy face and a hurting heart — trying to make sense of a painful situation by turning it into a story. That’s how I work.
I wanted desperately to imagine that I was anonymous that day. That if the baristas — and the other familiar faces surrounding me — didn’t really know who I was, that they might not notice my heartache, my struggle. And I’m guessing, that’s the day they realized it. That they didn’t know that lady’s name. Because that day I wasn’t the girl next door. I was the lady who was crying.
But now? Now I’m Amy. Not just the lady who cries. The Amy who cries. And I feel like I need to explain it. To tell them that if they read the words that I ripped from my soul that day, they would get it. That’s silly, I know. They’re simply being friendly by saying hello. It’s even a bit of a game, I bet, to remember people’s names and orders. They don’t need to — want to — know the whats and the whys on my screen.
But I do. So I return. To Starbucks. To my keyboard. To my soul.
And I write.
Note: I wrote this a few weeks ago, but didn’t really know if it had a place here on my parenting blog. But today, as I teared up again reading and writing, I figured this is my place to share my truths. All of them. And this is just one of those. So here it is.