East Pole Coffee Co.
I have felt stuck in Atlanta for a long time.
After my freshman year of college, I traveled to the PNW with my parents and older sister. My dad was raised in the Dalles, Oregon, which is an hour and a half gorgeous drive East of Portland. From the moment I first spotted Mount Hood through the clouds on our plane’s descent into PDX, I have been in love with the mountains and the rain and the trees of the Northwest.
A year later, I would spend four months in England studying at Oxford University. Like I had with Portland and Seattle, I fell in love with a place that was strange and new and so different from the hot, sprawling city I’d grown up in. I fell in love with the gloomy rain of Oxford, along with its busses and bikers and how it felt to walk a mile from my creaky flat in Jericho to the Radcliffe Camera in the City Center.
After Portland and Seattle and Oxford, I find myself restless, stuck in a city that I’m expert in criticizing. Atlanta is a sprawling city. Public transportation barely exists. If you want to get anywhere else in Atlanta, resign yourself to driving somewhere between thirty minutes and two hours. Oh, and the traffic is some of the worst in the nation. And in terms of culture and accessibility to the arts…ugh, I just get frustrated thinking about it.
The only part of Atlanta that I can confidently say I have explored fully is its specialty coffee scene. Since I was in high school, my favorite place to write has been in coffee shops. And while my options for specialty coffee shops were limited while I still lived in the far-reaching suburbs, I now have a full inventory of places I love to visit. (Most of them still require a thirty + minute drive, thanks to Atlanta roads).
East Pole Coffee Co. is my current favorite shop for working and writing and reading. It’s the home of one of my old barista co-workers (Hi, Ash!) who always makes me delicious drinks. It has everything a coffee shop needs — good music, lots of power outlets, many choices for seating, reliable wifi, amazing coffee. And on top of all that, it’s absolutely fucking gorgeous, with lots of natural lights coming in huge windows and perfectly coordinated light fixtures and a personalized teal La Marzocco. I love this shop. So much so that it's hard to convince myself to go visit other shops. Variety is good.
“There is a defiance that comes only with youth and inexperience, the refusal to accept life as it is” (Li | Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life | 2017).
I’ve recently become aware of how ironic my hatred of Atlanta is, given that I have never truly attempted to explore it. I spend a lot of time talking about how much I wish I lived in any-other-city, but I haven’t spent even a fraction of that time visiting the restaurants and bars and parks and uniquely-Atlanta spots that do exist here. I’m not saying that getting out into the city more would cure me of my itch to move away. I still want to get out of the South, spend some time in a different part of the country. I still find myself longing to live in a city that has awesome indie bookstores and a decent transit system, where I can spend more time walking and biking and less in my aging Honda. I cringe at the thought of enduring another Georgia summer commuting everyday in a car with no air conditioning. God, I want to move somewhere with less humidity.
But I do know that I need to spend less time inside my own head and inside my own room. I get stuck in ruts, in habits of going straight from bed to work to bed again. I spend more time each week watching Netflix than I do talking to people (and that’s including the time I’m at work). And that’s pretty depressing when you think about it. (Let’s be real, you don’t even have to think too hard.) My therapist has been slowly pushing me to reach out to people, to find one time a week where I try to socialize. I still haven’t found the courage to follow her suggestion in finding some kind of writing group in Atlanta (and from what I’ve seen, I’m not terribly optimistic about my odds of finding a good fit for me). Beyond that, I’m trying to increase the amount of time I spend outside of my room in general. And even if it doesn’t include other people, exploring new coffee shops and (maybe) bookstores is still a way for me to reach outside of my current reality, to recognize that there’s a world beyond the four walls of my bedroom and the comfy blankets piled on my bed.
Right now, I'm sitting in my bed waiting for my boy to get home from work. Lobo (my stuffed wolf pup) is resting next to me. I don't ever want to move. Sometimes it feels like I could really be content just sitting in this space forever, not needing people or social interaction or changes in scenery. I know that's just my depression talking. But it's hard to convince myself to get out, to take little adventures into a world that I'm not always sure I want to be a part of. But I'm trying, I guess. That's something...?