The window is too public for a voyeur. The seat in the coffee shop requires you to be a part of the scene, not apart from. Would never do. That's okay, I'm not into voyeurism.
Plain sight hiding places. Flannel shirt, jeans, boots or running shoes--coffee shop camouflage. In view, but unnoticed. An espresso-sipping notebook scribbler, like the rest. Easier to find than cream.
Used to be, I stopped in here before work or at lunch. Knew most of the people. Worked in town and was dailed in to what was going on. Now my work world is across the bridge, inside the beltway. When I look at downtown Easton, I can't see it as a place where I can work. Where I've grown up, where I live, where I will live, but not as a place where I can find a job doing what I do.
The rain outside isn't cold. But makes inside the better option, makes you have to want to go out. The coffee shop is comfortable, but feels almost sterile. Nothing of note. It's also not why I am downtown. Pull up hood, pick up coffee, jet. Rain letting up. Walk down Goldsborough.
I hear the soundtrack for Frogger, waiting for cars to go by, hop through the opening, up the sidewalk, around the corner.
I left Easton to make a living. We stay in Easton to live. The last time I hit the coffee shop was Waterfowl Festival weekend. Nine-year-old daughter Anna and I were downtown to hear Chester River Runoff. It was hands-in-pockets cold. No idea how you pluck a banjo with cold hands. Between sets, Anna and I grabbed hot chocolate and coffee. The band was there, too.
This time Anna is the band. 4th and 5th grade chorus. Christmas concert at the Festival of Trees at the Tidewater Inn. As I get to the Tidewater, her class is is stretched around the building like Christmas garland, filing their way in. I see her before she sees me; a friend points me out to her, and at nine years old it's still cool to acknowledge me.
As we all go in, Easton High School's chorus is performing. We had friends who were in Mr. Thomas's chorus. I flash-forward in my head and wonder if Anna will still be singing when she gets to high school. I knock that shit off, because picturing our girls growing up too quickly wrecks me and dudes don't ask for tissues at Christmas concerts.
The Easton Elementary chorus goes on. There is a full slew of kids, and Anna is in about the middle. We find each other and she smiles every time I hold up the camera. Flashes glances over while singing. They sing "Winter Wonderland," which is a favorite of mine.
They finish to applause and file off stage. I head out, back to the rain, but Anna catches me from behind, to say thanks for coming and see you after school. These life moments keep coming: concerts, field hockey games, field trips, award ceremonies. As kids, we had our first dances in the same room at the Tidewater. Easton reaches back across generations of my family, and reaches forward.
I Want to Move to Wisconsin.* - This is sort of an obsession confession. A few Thanksgivings ago, the family gathered at my Aunt's house in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. And I have been obsesse...