I woke with the sun this morning. Something I rarely do. I stared dreamily at beams of morning light through the blinds, recalling with vivid tingling emotion the café I visited one morning in Key West fifteen before. I had traveled 3,000 miles to hear my childhood hero, Judy Blume, speak at my first writing conference.
I remembered the island café’s warm yellow walls, black wrought iron chairs and tables, warm tropical breezes, swishing palm trees, fresh cut flowers on the patio, the crow of a rooster, a flaky croissant, and the steaming cup of coffee. I felt the spirit of Papa Hemingway walking those streets. Without hesitation, the muse busted down writing blocks and fears to write as my pencil flew across the paper.
Rolling on my side, I twisted in a stretch, then launched out of bed in a tuck and roll method I adopted during my first pregnancy. I pulled on my bike clothes, brushed my teeth, collected two dollars from my change bowl, lifted my bike off the wall rack and was peddling toward PCH within ten minutes.
I had a notion in my head.
I wanted to find a neighborhood coffee shop.
I didn’t know where it would be, but I knew the vibe and view would inspire story.
It would be a cozy place where I could cry or laugh as I wrote and sip good, warm coffee.
The breeze was cool and soft as I headed north along the boardwalk toward downtown Huntington Beach. The ocean was a ribbon of steal blue on the horizon with foaming ripples of small waves, breaking on the long sandy shoreline.
The red roof of Ruby’s appeared around the next bend as well as a series of closed boardwalk cafés. As I neared Main Street, I wondered if I would have to settle for cup of Joe at Starbucks. But something made me keep pedaling. Another two miles, and like a bloodhound, I followed the scent of instinct and turned inland.
I road down a wide street lined with palm trees and 1950s bungalow-styled craft homes. A large mural of an expansive orange orchard and Saddleback Mountain in the distance painted on a quaint one-story apartment building made it feel like I was slipping backward in time when orchards dotted the landscape around clusters of mid-century Californian neighborhoods.
Then there it was. Wrought iron chairs and tables, market umbrellas, and writing on the window that said it all, “A Neighborhood Coffee Shop.” I parked my bike at Sit, Stay Café and walked inside. Over-stuffed chairs by a lending library, a promising menu, super friendly service, great tunes and a discount if you bring your own cup.
It was perfect. A dream come true.