I am sitting in this parking lot again several years later for very different reasons.
The Borders is closed. The Starbucks, where I had my first date has changed its interior at least three times.
I’m sitting here doing very adult things like waiting in our only car (because mine is in the shop from being in two accidents) reading until my husband gets off work, and anticipating grocery shopping.
One of my major memories here was when it was cold outside. It was about four years ago when my husband first asked to date me. I was nervous, he was nervous, and I had a reason I was going to say no but as soon as I sat down across from him at their ridiculously small tables, it all melted away and I knew the only answer that could be was yes. I could not take my eyes off of him.
Going even further back was my first date here with a boy who moved far away. I thought I could handle a black coffee—how bad could it be?—but no. I barely sipped it between grimaces and eye-lash-batting. I like black coffee now from most places, but Starbucks’ house brew is still too bitter. (Which might be àpropos.)
The bookstore where I took all the boys is closed. The table where I first sat, trying to focus on writing an anti-abortion letter to the governor (oh I was so young and stupid) while holding hands with a twitchy/hyper, but marvelously handsome boy is gone.
And then I went there with the coffee guy, who named himself after the split names of two famous authors (and I after a mythological beast) but I don’t remember if we bought anything.
I went with my husband on multiple occasions. On our first date (after eating and Chili’s where I was so nervous I didn’t order for the first half hour), on many dates thereafter, and we met there in the blinding sunlight where I hid behind a shelf to reconvene (and makeup) after our breakup.
Borders and Starbucks were always a part of the journey; rarely were they the destination. I was always coming and going from somewhere else, but I always stopped for sweet lattes and flirting between bookshelves along the way. Maybe dinner at Steak ‘N Shake with the coffee boy (and later “Lady in the Water”), or meeting up with old classmates in the winter, reuniting with lost friends, and so many other times that were just as important that I can’t recall.
Borders is closed. Starbucks is not really the same. Mountain Jack’s is closed. The Caribou where I used to do Algebra homework and sit for long hours and talk about theology is closed too. (No more math problems, no more diagrams of time and space.) Steak ‘N Shake isn’t 24 hour anymore. And yet, here I am in the same parking lot, where I will be for years to come for very different reasons than I am now.
This must be what it feels like to grow up.