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Project I: A Stranger Comes to Town (for coffee)

Part 1: A Stranger Comes To Town

I could tell immediately that she wasn’t from around here. The moment she asked what types of “pop” we had, she was marked as a foreigner in this town. At least, she wasn’t from the Northeast. The Midwest perhaps…as close as Pittsburgh, even. (As it turns out, it was Michigan -- in case you were wondering.)  As per usual, I couldn’t let it slide. I never did. I let her know that we carried sodas, not pops. She didn’t like the joke at her expense. We didn’t have the best of introductions.

She still returned. Several times that week, in fact. For starters, the shop was close to her apartment. We offered ample seating, which was perfect for studying for her grad school courses. I asked what she was studying to be. I secretly hoped it’d be the same as me. We could become study partners; it’d be awfully convenient, for both parties. The first time my hopes were dashed was when it was the farthest thing from what I could be studying. I was in the humanities and she was in the sciences. I couldn’t even feign knowledge in the arts of the sciences.

She would come by regularly. We would occasionally talk about our studies. She was doing much better than I. My life was much more hectic, working 2 jobs plus schooling. It wasn’t cheap, and I didn’t want to live on loans and deal with them the rest of my days. I wasn’t sure, and still am not, what the greater evil might have been. The fall semester was nearing its close. I finally felt like I had overcome the transgression of that initial “pop” joke. My confidence was budding.

Then, the following week, they came in together. He paid for her usual beverage, plus his own. They sat together and talked for what seemed like hours. My fleeting crush was damned. He was in visiting her. He, too, was in grad school, but on the other side of the country.

I should have known to not get my hopes up when a stranger comes to town. This time, it was the newest stranger who dashed them.

Part 2: Let's Go On An Adventure

I really, really hate jokes at my expense. Don't get me wrong. I like humor. I'm a fun loving person. But there is nothing fun when the joke is on me and not with me. I almost didn't come back to that coffee shop. That boy working behind the counter made my mood bitter. Luckily for him, rather, luckily for the shop owner, he pulled an espresso that didn't match my mood.

It was a fine place to study. The shop was a bit small, but it was quiet enough. The coffee was good, and it was close to my too-hot-and-no-central-air apartment. Plus, the barista, a regular fixture during my visiting hours, eventually made up for his past transgressions. 

It seemed he had a crush on me. Surely that was the reason he wised up. The conversation was good enough. The jokes, when not at my expense, were good therapy for the stresses of my graduate school program. Thinking back, this little crush must have been why it all changed. 

Towards the end of my semester, and subsequent lease, Barrett came to visit. We met for coffee between some of my classes. Barrett treated, as he typically tends to do. The barista didn't really interact with me much after that. Just polite professionalisms with my shots of espresso. 

As my lease ended, so did my relationship with that shop. I then moved across the city, which has its plethora of shops on nearly every block. So, too, did my relationship with Barrett end.  I don't know what made me think of that shop or that boy. Perhaps it's the ghost of what could have been who paid me a visit today. Perhaps I should go ask for a pop...

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