My 2014 ended with a bang, the reverberations of which I am still feeling. No need to go into detail, but it’s been a hard time. And when hard times hit, I tend to lose interest in speaking.
So I have been listening to a lot of music, loudly and by myself. When the Hobbit and Two are at school or after they’ve gone to sleep. And I’ve been trying to find my way back to my writing life.
In pursuit of this latter goal, I returned to one of my favorite writing spots last week. It’s a cafe called Bean There, and as far as I’m concerned it’s got a perfect combination of warmth, light, space, sound and nourishment. There are people who’ve been hanging out there since I used it as my “office” fifteen years ago. Probably longer, but I can’t verify. The vibe is mellow, unpretentious. And the coffee is better than average. Not amazing but affordable and effective nonetheless. It’s a very San Francisco place, in the best possible sense, and I did some really wonderful writing there way back when. Long story short: from the moment I walked in I felt a little sunnier.
Eudora Welty also helped. I’d pulled her One Writer’s Beginnings out of my basement stash of writing books and brought it with me to Bean There because Eudora’s writing books are so good and they tend to illuminate not just writing but living. Example: when describing her father on the second page of the book, she writes
“He told us children what to do if we were lost in a strange country. ‘Look where the sky is brightest along the horizon,’ he said. ‘That reflects the nearest river. Strike out for a river and you will find habitation.'”
Sound advice. And so beautifully put. It made me want to be lost in a strange land. It made me wonder where the river is in my own situation. It made me stop, look up, feel gratitude anew for Bean There and its cast of characters. For cities and San Francisco in particular. For habitation and my fellow human beings.
It made me think that there just might be a bright place along the horizon of this year that started so strangely.