Why this is a Coffee Shop Journal

I recently explained on my other blog, Dancing Thru Her Daddy’s World, how the death of my father three years ago rocked the foundations of my world. The process of re-grounding myself resulted in a comforting awareness of who my true Father is, and that this is the world he has given me to dance through to my heart’s content. Well in a way, Coffee Shop Journal is named for my father as well, even though I have owned the name since long before he passed away.

My dad was an amazing man. He was a Yankee proper, and full of insight gleaned from years of being a successful businessman, family man and church man. Dad’s charisma lent every gathering a little bit more depth. When he spoke, people stopped and listened carefully, because through his broad New England accent he was bound to be saying something important.

Nearly every afternoon, as 3:00 pm approached, Dad would find his way to the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts for his afternoon coffee. You could set your clock by him. You could also gauge his mood by his afternoon coffee runs. On the days when the world was pressing in on him, he quietly left the house without announcement or fanfare. He wanted — needed — to be alone. He loved to sit and think. On days when he was concerned for one of us in particular, he issued a personal invitation. “Marla, David, let’s meet at 3 for coffee.” On carefree days there was a general, “Well, getting towards that time. Anyone coming with me?” But inbetween those specific invitations there was the standing realization that at 3 Dad could be found holding court in Dunkin’ Donuts. And most of the time, we were in attendance. You had to be vigilant, though: Dad often switched up his Dunkin’ locations. You see, after a while in each shop, he’d get to know the regulars and they would learn to love him. He’d walk in hoping to stop and think, and find himself surrounded by a hodge podge of folk who just wanted to be near. Switching locations helped him remain unpredictable, mysterious, and sort of independent. When Dad died so suddenly, David and I had to make a long, slow progression around coffee shops in three states to let his friends and fans know about his passing. It was a fitting tribute.

For nearly 20 years, David made a habit of wandering through the doors of Dunkin’ Donuts anytime my Dad was in town. This was difficult for a natural Starbucks lover, but the rewards were worth it. The two of them (more, if Mom and I went along) would sit and discuss the day’s business. It was a Harvard Business School education for the price of a cup of coffee. After a time, our favorite refrain was, “Stop me if I’ve told you this before, but…”

I’d love to hear that one more time.

For me, and for David, the coffee shop became our metaphor for the places in life where you discuss the important matters. We were fans of the “Third Place” long before we knew what First and Second places were. The community in a coffee shop meets a time-honored tradition encoded in our genes. We really miss the coffee shops of the past, but we’re focusing on establishing our own routines, our own interactions.

So I guess that brings us to Coffee Shop Journal, my own little spot on the blogosphere to discuss the things that matter and to learn from people who have walked a few steps ahead of me in life. My caffeine is more likely to be a double espresso, but it gives a good kick!

By Marla Saunders

I am passionately devoted to living my life in the places God has given me. Over the years those places have changed: from homeschooler to businesswoman, from consumer to storyteller. These days I’m focusing on building a new business and figuring out what it means to do everything with integrity and informed by faith.