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Picnic Weather

For that Saturday writers' coffee, I biked ten miles along the Rillito River trail toward Cafe Luce. My water bottle was full. I'd applied sunscreen, and packed a few ideas, a notebook and pen. I didn't know what we writers might discuss when I arrived, or who might show up. Maybe I'd see the eccentric artists I met in last year's journaling class? Maybe the about-to-be novelist who once ran a garden center in San Jose? Or the gentle, 80-year-old poet who walked two miles every day?

At the cafe, two men talked across the table next to me. One said he'd had a heavy week: a death in the family--unexpected-- and miles away, so no time to get to the funeral. The other man replied: I'm sorry... Well.... um... We should probably talk about this project.

Near the window, a young girl sat on her knees and flipped through a floppy novel. Cyclists streamed in from the bike trail; their cleats clicked the concrete as they walked to the counter. A man with long grey hair sat alone with his tea.

Around me, the scent of coffee. Those 70s tunes I'd forgotten. Espresso machine clatter, and the blender crushing ice into noisy little pieces.

I pulled out my notebook and wrote about the collegiate guys whispering about particularly tough childhood moments. I wrote about the lady with a Texas drawl who'd just met her pastor and his wife. I wrote about the sullen barista, and the guy at the counter who seemed almost euphoric to chat with this girl.

Slowly, it came to me that this coffee date had turned into writing time-- for me.

Have you ever planned an event, or anticipated an outcome, and it became something diffferent, but kinda cool? Like, the family reunion picnic day comes, and it rains sooo hard you stare out the window and laugh? Or, your Tuesday jog, which you think will be as tiring as always, stops short when you meet a little lost dog who asks for help? Or the wind messes up your perfectly-styled hair, but later, you realize you sorta like this weird new you?

I think we all have the ability to sidestep our big-old expectations and appreciate what happens instead. We're not always in the mood for this sunny thinking. And it takes willingness! But being open might be easier than you think. As the improv experts say, Just show up. See what appears.

Here's to being here as often as possible! Wishing you happy travels.


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