Seasons of life and Starbucks | Katherine Smith

Sitting in Starbucks and watching the world go by. It’s a people-watching smorgasbord second, in my opinion, only to people-watching at Disneyland.

Sitting in Starbucks and watching the world go by. It’s a people-watching smorgasbord second, in my opinion, only to people-watching at Disneyland.

On Monday I happened to be writing at one of our local stores and I couldn’t help but notice the volume of people who came through, it was frappuccino happy hour after all, and who can pass that up? Personally, I still think Starbucks should bring back caramel brownie, but that’s just me.

There were the groups of what looked to be high school aged girls and a flurry of venti something-or-others. The 20-something with her green tea, the businessmen, the middle aged ladies, the waitress at a local restaurant, the construction workers, the son celebrating his new job with his parents. You get the idea.

Tom Hanks said it best, “The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat, etc. So people who don’t know what the hell they’re doing or who on earth they are, can — for only $2.95 — get not just a cup of coffee, but an absolutely defining sense of self.”

Then there’s me, sitting by the window typing away. All of these people who breezed in and out, and those who lingered, who had no idea I was sitting over here, just watching the world go by and writing my column.

It just got me thinking. About life and the different places and stages and how we’re all just coming or going or searching for who we are, defining ourselves through the choices we make, writing our narratives, ordering our coffee. Sometimes we fall, sometimes we fly, and sometimes we just hold on for dear life.

It made me think about how I’ve been writing my own story lately: writer, truth seeker, journalist, Seattle native, Biolan, Jesus follower, daughter, sister, auntie. Those are just some of the ways I define myself.

This time last year I started an internship that set the wheels in motion that eventually brought me here. A year ago I started learning more about this community and the people and things happening here.

It’s funny how much can change in a year. A year ago I had no idea what I was doing or where I was going to end up. It had been a year and a half since I graduated and I was more confused than ever. Then I was given an amazing opportunity and ever so slowly the pieces began to fall into place.

Aside from finally getting to work in my industry of choice, I’ve also taken up running in the past few months. It all started because I was thinking of ways I wanted to challenge myself this year and I got it in my head that running a 5K sounded like fun. Last week I signed up for my first race, which I’ll run with my sister when she comes to visit this summer, and I’m planning a trip to SoCal in the fall to see some of my best friends and participate in another race. I also bought my first pair of running shoes last weekend, so I guess I’m seriously committed at this point.

Speaking of commitment, I’m also newly committed to finishing “Anna Karenina.” Reading more classics has been something I’ve been doing since I graduated. I have tried to read Anna more than once. The first time I was in high school and I didn’t get very far, just to Levin and Kitty ice skating. After I graduated from college it was one of the first things I downloaded on my Kindle. That time I made it to Vronsky’s attempted suicide before I stalled. I think part of the problem is that I already know how all this ends, and it isn’t pretty. I’ve read more in spurts over the last year and a half. According to my Kindle I am all of 60 percent of the way through. Apparently Tolstoy wasn’t one to mince words. A few months ago I watched the newest film version with Keira Knightly and last week I picked it up again, more determined than ever to finish once and for all. I mean, I read “Wuthering Heights” in less time than this, and I’ve read that one twice. Finishing is just one of those things I want to do.

Those are all just snapshots of my story, pieces of this season of life. Like how I go through phases of Starbucks drinks. On this particular afternoon my drink of choice was a tall caramel ribbon crunch frappuccino, no whip. I’ve also been on a passion tea kick lately. I wonder what that says about me?

To the customer who ordered a salted caramel mocha frappuccino: thank you. I’m going to have to try that sometime.