Well, it’s the last day of the #rituals FLASHMOB (exclamation point), and I for one, have loved the time leaning into lives, hearing the stories, learning the hearts. And to finish up this week’s gift, we have writer, blogger and speaker Addie Zierman, or one I call a seamless weaver of poetry & prose. I’ve been a fan of Addie’s since her first book came out, and loved then getting to know the real deal when we roomed together at last year’s Festival of Faith & Writing. Enjoy her ritual!
On days when my kids are elsewhere, I drive 0.7 miles to The Bean Coffee & Wine Cafe, order a medium light roast in a mug while chatting with Jess or Emily or whoever’s barista-ing that morning, and settle in at the table by the window to write.
Mostly now, I don’t even have to order; they see me and grab the mug and begin to fill it up. “How’s the writing?” they ask, and I tell them about the new deadline or the new edits…or, if it’s a bad day, I quickly change the subject.
I am a Regular — a title that I covet more than almost any other that I’ve earned — and this is my ritual.
Of course, there are a million places in my own home that I could write if I wanted to.
I could close the door to my bedroom and sprawl on the bed with my laptop. I could sit on the red couch by the bookshelves or at the kitchen table. I could go way, way down stairs to the cave-like guest room and burrow under the covers of that guest bed like a gopher.
Recently, my youngest decided to move into his big brother’s room. They sleep together now on bunk beds, and I’ve commandeered the rejected bedroom for an office, complete with an inspiration board and a small desk facing the window, looking out over our pond. I can sit there and work, and I can look out at the ducks cutting across the water.
I could write in that office. I should write in that office…and sometimes I do.
But the house buzzes with all the things I really ought to be doing. From the kitchen table, I can hear the dishes taunting me from the sink — Wash us. Wash us. From my bed, I have a front-row seat to the overflowing hamper in the closet, and sitting on the couch, I keep glancing past my computer at the floor that needs to be vacuumed. Not only vacuumed but carpet-cleaned. I wonder if I should rent a carpet cleaner? From there, it’s a short jump to pricing them online and Pinterest-ing carpet cleaning solution.
Even in my office, I get distracted by the windows that need washing, the kids’ artwork that needs to be scanned and filed, the letters that need to be posted.
So I’ve made a habit of going to The Bean instead.
The Bean, where the two old farmers come in every morning to have a cup of coffee together. Where they nod at me and grunt hello, and then they sit across from one another with their mugs, talking in low voices.
The Bean, where the pastor from the charismatic church down the road comes to work on his sermon and where the quiet Asian kid with a long ponytail works on his Mac and where pods of women pull tables together for book clubs.
Every so often, I end up there on the morning that the Andover Cycling Club shows up, sweaty and Spandex-ed and raucous after a long ride.
I have logged hundreds of hours writing at The Bean. I know most of the staff by name; the other Regulars, I mostly know by face. None of it is particularly intimate, and it’s not what we traditionally think of when we talk about friendship. But just being there among them makes me feel braver, healthier, less alone.
After all, there is so much about writing that is lonely. It is the most solitary thing, to crawl up inside your own memory and imagination and try to commit it all to paper. At the Bean, my earbuds pump music into my brain as I work, and I am given wide berth and wide smiles and free refills and the most stunningly simple kind of support.
The night I received the first, daunting batch of edits for my most recent draft, I went to the Bean to drink wine and sob in the corner, and the server on duty refilled my glass inconspicuously and never said a word about it. When the next batch of edits came through, they brought a bottle of wine to my table in a bucket of ice — an overpayment for the copy of my first book that I’d given the owner.
These are precious moments to me — gems on a string.
But just as important are all the average, regular days. The days I pull into the parking lot, order the coffee, settle into my table. The days when nothing particularly special happens except fingers on computer keys, words on a blank screen, good coffee sipped from a big, ceramic mug. Nods from the farmers. Hello’s from the baristas. The small rituals that are building me, day by day, into a writer.
Addie Zierman is a writer, blogger and speaker. She has an MFA from Hamline University and is the author of When We Were on Fire: A Memoir of Consuming Faith, Tangled Love and Starting Over. She lives in Minnesota with her husband and two sons and blogs regularly at addiezierman.com. It’s Cara again: doesn’t this make you want to head to your local coffee shop and make that place (and those people) your ritual? Well, it does me. Encourage Addie by leaving a comment. (Contest is now closed).