By Andy Mitchell
Once again I’m outside on Nicole’s front porch (that is, the Soap Co. Coffee shop’s), savoring a rare mild day and a cup of the house brew, thinking, ‘This is the life.’ (The writer’s life to be more specific.) Cafe society right here in River City. Al fresco culture at its finest. Gazing across the square, the Farmers’ building rises through banks of clouds into a perfect Indian summer blue. Behind which the clock face on a pitched roof of the courthouse is only slightly behind the time registered on my iPhone. It seems to be saying; ‘I think I’ll take it easy on such a nice day.’ And why not? I’m taking it easy writing this piece. Taking my time. Time to talk to my mate, Chris, the barber, whose shop, Hair on the Square, is just to the right in my line of vision; time to open the door for Mary, who always has a kind word for me as she wields her cart of vintage finds. Time to chat with impresario extraordinaire, Rich, who pulls up a chair for a bit. Time to help Alexia carry in cartons of milk for all those luscious lattes. Sure, she could shoulder the load herself; nevertheless, she appears reassured that chivalry is alive and well in the form of the skinny dude next door.
On such a fine day as this, my impulse is to slow down. So often it seems we’re all in a hurry these days … to make the next appointment … to finish all of our tasks … to keep up with the Joneses and their nine-car garage. But for what? What are we after? What is it we’re seeking in our mania for more? Isn’t enough enough? No, I don’t think that two-syllable, six-letter word has yet to make its way into our everyday lexicon.
I understand. I get it. I know what it’s like to want that which is out of reach. After all, it’s a natural desire, right? It’s what drives us beyond the point of settling, the point at which we accept less of ourselves than we’re cable of achieving. But for what? For what purpose is all this alleged “achievement” and striving? Sure, I could be sitting in some cafe in Paris, drinking a thimble of concentrated caffeine, watching all the stylish aesthetes waxing nihilistic around me. But for all the vaunted aspects of the City of Light, I know no one there. Same goes for London, or any of the other places in which I’ve dreamed of living. While I do know a few people in New York, I’ve spent enough time there to realize that, yes, it’s exciting, but it’s not the place for me.
Who knows what the future will hold, but for quite some time now, Jenn and I have settled here in my hometown. And, looking out onto the vibrant scene downtown, I don’t believe we’ve “settled” in any disparaging sense. When my friend, Jess, sees me nestled next to Nicole’s pot of herbs, typing away, and says, “Andy, you’re living the dream,” who am I to argue?