We’re back in Scottsdale. Or Seattle. I’m not sure which.
But not really. I’m with Mo, who is succumbing to the call for a proper Americano after a year in Corpus. The Starbucks is only a mile or so away from us but we haven’t been here since our move. Until today.
It’s the same shop we left behind. We sit in the same quirky chairs that are so conspicuously random in all Starbucks. The small tables. The grande prices. We sigh contentedly.
A yuppie couple’s Honda element waits patiently in the parking lot. Inside, the music is off the Starbucks playlist.
A well-dressed man reads the Wall Street Journal at the next table. His 6-year-old son, whose IQ likely is considerably higher than mine already, engages him in a short conversation before returning to a separate table to sip his $3 designer cola.
A hipster student works on his laptop. Two professionals sip tea in a corner. Life in a cocoon.
The colors, the atmosphere, the products. They’re exactly like the ones we left behind in Phoenix. Local culture? No need. This is Starbucks.
Four people work behind the counter. Three are white; one is Hispanic. How is that possible in a city that’s 60 percent Latino? No lo se.
The customers are white, upper class. They’re good people.
It feels familiar. It feels safe. It feels like home.
On the way back, I stop at the convenience store for a soda (did I ever mention I hate Starbucks coffee?) The store is only a mile or so from home and I go there a lot.
A guy in front of the store appears to be a gangbanger sort. He seems to be contemplating whether to rob the store. I’m hoping he waits till after I get my soda.
He’s wearing a tight sleeveless shirt with tattoos covering both arms. He wears a bandana on his head which may indicate his colors (I am sadly out of touch with current gang protocol). This makes me wonder what gang I’m aligning myself with when I carry a bandana on my daily run.
An RV that appears to be someone’s home is parked in the lot. Inside, the Beverly Hillbillies are surrounding my soda machine. They are mesmerized by a contraption that produces ice, then soda. They need instructions. I give up and buy a bottle instead.
I’m in line behind a crazy homeless guy checking lottery tickets. I’m hoping he wins. He doesn’t. A mother with three tattered kids wanders the aisles. The youngest is practicing screaming. It seems to be paying off; he’s quite good at it.
The store has that dirty feel of a place that’s been there too long, seen too many people, stopped caring. Get your damn malt liquor and get out. But they have Hershey bars. I sigh contentedly.
The customers are lower income and Hispanic. They’re good people.
I get in the car and Mo remarks that it’s not that often she gets the feeling she’s going to die in a parking lot. She doesn’t say it like it’s a good thing.
We drive off into our new life. An Americano in a strange land.
It feels different. It feels scary. It feels like home.