We had been living in a three story townhouse in a new development in Howard County for a little over four months when I finally got comfortable with driving fifteen minutes to a standalone Starbucks; not in a Target, not in a Safeway, not in a Barnes and Noble, not at the Mall, but all by itself, like they should be. All this time I had refused the concept of a) driving to get coffee, and b) driving altogether unless I really have to. And when I have to I drop Jeff off at work and find myself in front of Columbia Mall that houses a Starbucks should I want to dispense the stars earned mostly from Jeff's walks over there on a special venti drink.
Living in Arlington, VA had spoiled me: I could walk to no less than half a dozen coffee shops in fifteen minutes or less and I could stock my pantry and refrigerator, pay my phone, and internet and cable bills, pay my local taxes, pick up books from the library, do DMV transactions, visit the post office, choose between five playgrounds, attend three story times, buy clothes all without having to set seat in a vehicle. So naturally when we relocated to the suburbs, I resisted changing my habit. Then, I got somewhat over it; just somewhat.
I used to take JR on dates when she was Yousef's age and so it was time for Yousef and I to spend some "quality" time together outside our neighborhood. That the weather that day had not turned into the extremely windy and chilly it later became was a bonus.
The map which I thought was my best guide to a new location, showed me the way to its proximity then sent me around in circles. Had I not been determined to hang out with Yousef that morning in the fresh air I would have turned the car around and driven home. But after long minutes of driving up and down the street looking for Starbucks, I was getting close to giving up. Then, I saw it. It was in a building smaller than the ones around it, so it was not that obvious. We made it this far. The line was out the door, it was after 8:00am so I guess people wanted their coffee on their way to work. We took a turn. Yousef was fussy. I held him; he squirmed. I tried to entertain him; we spilled an entire jar of special reserve coffee on the floor. I was getting impatient. Then, it was our turn.
Grande Thanksgiving roast and a pumpkin cream cheese muffin with an empty plastic cup for milk for Yousef. We were all set. We headed to the patio. Most of the chairs and tables were wet but we found a couple of dry ones. Two bites into his muffin Yousef was on to moving around.
Two sips into my coffee I was chasing napkins, wiping down spilled milk and holding on to the muffin; the wind was gaining momentum and I had to secure our belongings. I also had to take photos; I wanted to commemorate our outing. By that time I think the other coffee drinkers were wondering about me; I don't think I seemed collected to them and I probably wasn't: I had been up multiple times during the night and then completely up since 4:00am because I gave up on trying to go back to sleep and wanted to write.
It all ended well, though. I didn't care what people thought. Yousef had a good time. I enjoyed being out with him. He ate, I drank and we both played in the sun. When it was time to sit in the car seat, though, the fun was all over - but that is another story for another day.