The world is so unbelievably large. And the nuances of living life are so wildly small. The mundanity of the every day to one can be the pinnacle of adventure to another. The smallest things can hold wonder. And the basic rules can bring anxiety. Like the sand crabs bubbling under the surface as the surf rolls out, or learning how to drive in the snow.
To an Iowa farmer, every piece of a sandy beach town can seem foreign. And so too, the cold and snow of winter in rural Montana can feel like a horrible, freezing hell world to a boy from Miami.
Hank Green shows this in his video giving his best advice at living in a cold climate after 22 years in the heat:
The passage of time is implied by the basic ‘secrets’ learned in a new home. Like never letting your gas meter get too low in the winter. Or knowing what time rush hour hits on a Thursday afternoon. Because living in a new place, just like playing the piano or gutting a fish, takes practice.
Every Sunday for the past several months, my sister Theresa has driven an hour and a half to the café she used to work at in Madison, WI, and works the day – in what would normally be the job for three separate baristas. It’s a sweet little coffee shop, connected to a bicycle company and storefront. It’s very similar to the café she worked at and managed for years in Chicago, called Heritage. I think she’s hoping to work at every coffee + bike partnership in the Midwest before she dies.
This past Sunday morning, I woke up early enough to feel more accomplished than usual, and found myself wanting to leave the apartment. In the middle of winter, during a pandemic, working from home, ventures out the front door are a rare and exciting occurrence. It had been a high of 10 degrees for the last week, often hitting negative 10 or 15 in the nights – but this morning the sun was shining merrily and the icicles dripping feverously outside the kitchen windows confirmed that it now gotten to the mid twenties.
I decided a drive would be nice, and, having run out of beans a few days before, I decided coffee was the perfect excuse. I donned my favorite leather boots, black gloves and a scarf and locked the front door behind me on my housemate still fast asleep. The birds seemed to be chirping louder than usual, just as excited by the sun as I was. When I got to my car, I found the accumulation of five days snow and ice that took many minutes to scrape away.
Once the engine had been started, the ice had been scraped and the car rocked from snow ruts it had been stuck in, I got on my way. I had intended to drive just a few minutes to my favorite local shop, Interval Coffee, just a half mile or so from my apartment. But with music playing and the cold morning still a little exhilarating, I decided I was up for a little more of a trek. Go over to Canary Coffee? Maybe even something down south of the city a little bit? Or out towards the suburbs?
As I kept driving, option after option slipped by – not unnoticed, just uninteresting. I kept driving, quickly finding myself driving onto the ramp leading to 94 west. Driving and driving and driving. Until snow covered buildings turned to snow covered houses, which then turned into vast snow covered plains of grass and farmland.
After an hour and a half, I pulled up in front of Café Domestique, the small shop my sister Theresa works at every Sunday. As I walked in, the bell above the door was drowned out as Theresa gave a scream in delightful fashion, and burst out from behind the counter. We chatted and laughed as she made me a latte.
“Well,” I said, “I’d just wanted a drive this morning my gal.”
“That is wonderful news!” She said back, beaming underneath her mask.
Just then, the bell above the door tinkled again, and another one of my sisters, Kim, walked in.
“You’re joking.” I practically yelled, starting to cackle with laughter.
“Oh my god!” Kim yelled back, “I guess we just had the same idea this morning! I just felt like driving this morning.”
“I’M SO GLAD WE ARE ALL HERE!” Theresa absolutely screamed behind the counter, throwing her hands in the air.
Kim and Theresa live together. I live half a mile away, a three minute car drive – yet there we were, meeting accidentally an hour and a half away. I half expected to look out the window to see Lauren and Ryan, the two siblings missing from our faux family get together, strolling up the street and into the café.
The three of us looked at each other chummily for a few moments once me and Kim had gotten our drinks. The sun was shining and the coffee was warm. Then Theresa said, “So… we actually don’t allow anyone to stay in the store right now. It’s carryout only.”
The image is not mine, and was found here. Also, this story isn’t real.