Saying Goodbye to Our Barista
We said goodbye to our barista today.
Her name is BreAnn.
We’ve known her for six years. Two or three times each week, for six years, she has served Bev and I, and now she is gone.
Big deal, right?
Except yes, it is a big deal, to us.
I like to tell people that Bre makes the perfect mocha. Maybe she doesn’t. Maybe it just seems that way because she is our friend and we like her so damned much.
And today we said goodbye.
Two or three times each week, for six years . . . hell, I haven’t seen my best friends that often over that time span . . . so yes, we will miss her.
She Is a Beauty
Beauty is only skin deep . . . someone said that once, referring to physical beauty, and I understand the meaning behind that worn-out phrase. I’ve seen some actresses on talk shows, stunning women, who had the depth of a thimble. And the first thing you notice about Bre is yes, she is physically beautiful with that long blonde hair and flawless skin, perfect features, like some California surfer chick who took a wrong turn at Malibu and ended up in Olympia . . . but then, after a bit of time passes, you begin to notice some depth to this young woman, surprise, there’s a quality mind inside those golden locks and lo and behold, there is a heart beating in that chest, a heart that cares . . . a heart that cares.
There is depth in her for sure, and she wears that substantial heart on her sleeve. A smile one day which can illuminate the darkest of circumstances, and a barely-restrained, pissed off, in your face angst the next as she strains to hold back whatever it is that’s bothering her, and may the gods keep safe those she does not like, for her sarcastic tongue can slice and dice the most macho of wrongdoers.
So don’t let that beatific smile fool you, for like the sailors of old, spotting a false light on rocky shores, the true lighthouse may be miles away. She can be a tumultuous tempest or the sunniest of summer days, and I love that about her.
This is a young lady who left home, worked her ass off, paid for her own college education, and is now heading to the hallowed halls of state government because, get this, she wants to make a difference in this world. Knowing Bre is working in politics makes my jaded heart warm, giving me hope for the future, knowing there is at least one person at the state capitol who gives a good damn about our community and the people who live in it.
And I love that about her!
We’ve had some good talks about politics and the social fabric of this nation. We have not always agreed, but the talks were respectful, and the depth of her convictions is admirable.
And I love that about her!
Have a Nice Day
How often have you heard that worn-out cliché from retail workers? It is their mantra, tossed out at the end of a transaction with all the passion of a grocery-list reading. I understand it; I truly do. I’ve worked retail, and I know the mundane nature of working a minimum wage job, dealing with rudeness from customers, day in, day out, the sameness of it wears on you, the knowledge that no matter how hard you try you’ll always have the same position and make the same wage . . . so by hour three, or four, of a shift, have a nice day is tossed out, usually without eye contact, just something to say to move the line along and get through the shift.
But Bre cares! If she likes you, that tiresome cliché will not leave her lips. Instead you’ll hear “what’s your day look like,” or “how’s your job coming along?” conversation starters which show she wants to know about you, she really gives a shit, and suddenly the production-line nature of the job slows to a crawl and there she is, listening to your answer, really listening by God, and yes, I love that about her.
So the Years Marched By
And we learned about her family, her love for her little brother, her boyfriend, her hopes, her dreams, her tolerances and her intolerances, and she learned about ours, like people who really care, you know, people who really get it, people who understand that the only thing worth a tinker’s damn in this world is love.
And we followed her on her travels, to Texas, to Italy, and saw the joy in her as she recalled those trips, and we watched her on social media, interacting with her friends, watched as that smile of hers lit up whatever room or space she occupied, and that smile made us smile.
And we loved that about her as she traversed the years and arrived at this moment.
The moment we said goodbye to her.
And so It Goes
How many people do we meet in a lifetime? I’m guessing the number is in the hundreds-of-thousands, from birth to death, a huge number when you think about it, an impressive number for sure . . . but then how many of those people are just a blink, a stolen moment from the ordinary? I think of my high school graduating class, a class of eighty-two, and fifty-odd years later I am in contact with five of them. Those are people I spent a solid four years with, and there are only five of them still in my life.
College? The number is smaller for me . . . two! Four years and two lasting friendship of regular contact.
The people I have worked with over the years? Over fifty years of employment, and a grand total of six people still walk the landscape of my life.
And the funny thing is we never clue in to the transitory and flimsy nature of these relationships. At the time, we think these people will be in our lives for decades, and when the last time we see them arrives, we don’t even realize it. Here today, gone tomorrow, I remember when, goodbye Yellow Brick Road, and then all we have left to hold are memories.
I find that sad. At the very least sweet melancholy in nature . . .
So, we said goodbye to our barista the other day . . .
And I hope it isn’t truly goodbye.
I don’t want Bre to become a shadow memory. I have so few quality people in my life, and I could really use a dose of Bre from time to time to brighten up those days when the sun isn’t shining quite so bright.
We’ve exchanged phone numbers. She has promised to send pictures from her new job. We have promised to go to the Capitol and watch her work. We have talked about her coming over to our house for visits, maybe having lunch from time to time, all the promises people make when time has run out and life has taken a detour.
And I hope it happens. I hope this isn’t another case of too little, too late, add another faded photograph into the memory album.
It would make me sad if it was.
Bre is worth holding onto.
2018 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)