“Friendships begin with liking or gratitude—roots that can be pulled up”
George Eliot aka Mary Ann Evans (1819-1880)
An acquaintance is defined as “a person who one knows but who is not a particularly close friend” or “a person known casually”. In my post “Not just the 8:30 am cappuccino” (November 14th, 2011) I talked about how finding myself part of a community in a corner cafe has been a fortunate delight. This is an experience that I care a lot about. Through habitual contact with the other regulars over great coffee and interesting conversation I had made the acquaintance of several intriguing individuals. I loved going to the cafe knowing that it was very likely that there would be someone there to visit with. It was all very casual but felt like community nonetheless.
It was not long before my days of a quick cappuccino before heading to the office were over. Things were progressing in more ways than one. The progression enriched the experience. Time spent at the cafe in the mornings lengthened. There was a lot to talk about. Then just as I was preparing to leave someone would arrive, so what’s another cappuccino and another 15 or 20 minutes if it is for conversation and camaraderie?
Eventually a few of us started sitting at a table instead of just standing at the bar. Inevitably we would spend more time usually getting into deep discussion about something important at the time. It was all a pleasure.
It was inevitable and not at all surprising when I started to frequent the cafe at other times of the day. It was always nice to see someone from the morning crowd there when I did go to the cafe at some other time during the day. Soon “Let’s meet for lunch or for a coffee later in the day” would bring us acquaintances together once again. Things were progressing.
There was a short time when I naively thought that the cafe would also be a good place to go and read or catch up on some writing. I learned quite quickly that this was not to be. There was always someone I knew at the cafe and having a conversation with them always seemed more important and it was. I stopped taking any work or reading to the cafe and went elsewhere if that was what really needed to be done.
People moved away and new people arrived on the scene but through it all there was a core group of individuals that I kept talking with, spending time with. I felt that these acquaintances of mine were becoming much more than “people I knew casually”. These people were becoming my friends.
Life continued to bring us closer. Heart to heart conversations about the dreams and wishes we had for our respective children made us realize how similar our journeys as a human being were. There was a common bond. A death of a friend that we did not even know we shared brought a group of us together at her funeral. This took us to a new level of relationship. The death of a new friend’s daughter brought us even closer. We were sharing much more than opinion and concerns about current events. We were sharing what it means to be human and trying to support one another in that sometimes difficult process that is life.
Common values and social action concerns also brought me closer to individuals from the coffee bar. The significance of my relationship with one individual in particular stands out not in terms of the friendship that developed between us but in what was mirrored in the reaction of people outside of our community. In my travels I happened to meet the mother of my friend. By way of explanation I will tell you that she is about my age and he is about the age of my oldest daughter. She did not hide the fact that she was surprised that I was a friend of her son. “Tell me again, where did you meet my son? How did you become friends with my son? were questions that she asked many times. That I was friends with her son who was not anywhere close to my age was something that she found a bit odd yet it was one of the things that I valued about the community that had developed through our visits to the cafe. We had several common interests and loved to share ideas. That we were from different generations made our conversations that much more interesting.
Things continued to progress. The friendships that had developed among us over coffee began to spread out beyond the cafe and to other people in our lives. Spouses, other friends and family began to join the cafe get-togethers and the group of friends expanded. The core group grew much larger. It was not long before we started to socialize outside of the cafe.
That we had met over coffee in this little cafe was a source of amazement for many people. One of many stories stands out for me. I was at a silent auction, of course with a dear friend from the cafe, and we jointly bid on an item that we thought sounded like fun. We were the successful bidders on a sleigh ride for eight people at a local farm with a dinner served by the hosts. We agreed that our other friends from the cafe would be a good group to invite to join us on this outing and that is what we did. The minus 25 degree (Celsius) temperature did not deter us and we headed out for the day. The host asked us where we had all met and like the mother of my friend was amused and astonished to learn that we had all become friends at a cafe. She commented that it must be some special cafe and she was absolutely correct in saying that. It was an astonishing experience in an astonishing place.
By taking the time to have coffee and conversations we had discovered a community of friends. We discovered that there were many things that we could share and that there were many things that we shared a liking for. We also shared our gratitude for the many fortunes in our lives. We also shared our gratitude for having had the chance to get to know one another. We connected through sharing our thoughts, our ideas and dreams, and our feelings and fears. These are the roots that have become strong and continue to grow and spread. We are “particularly close friends” and know that we can depend on each other. Fabulous!
Another cappuccino please!
Irene McDermott © 2011