We all know that one barista — the one that makes coffee like it’s an art form, the one that sticks in your brain as you exit the café, latte in hand, wondering who exactly they are and what makes them tick.
Earlier this year, I got a honey, lavender and cardamom latte at a small cafe in Charlottesville, and the barista who served me is someone I think about regularly. She had this air about her — this energy I couldn’t get out of my brain even months later. Truly, there was nothing spectacular about this interaction — she handed me a latte and complimented my wallet. There are moments in our lives, I think, when we’re oddly struck by a connection with someone. I don’t remember the name of this girl, but I could tell you what she was wearing and exactly what she told me in the brief conversation we had about the taste of lavender. It got me thinking. When was the last time you looked a stranger in the eyes — truly looked — long enough to remember their exact shade of blue?
We spend so much time rushing from one thing to another, especially when we’re purchasing coffee. Even if we’re not rushing around, when we go into a coffee shop, we’re usually so eager to just start studying that we tune the world out. We all live life at the University striving to “make the most of it.” We often have this perception that making the most of it means going to bars with our friends, spending as much time looking at the Rotunda as much as possible and filling our free time to the brim with extracurriculars. However, I would make the argument that “making the most of it” means something completely different.
If we don’t take the time to slow down and really look at the people around us — take a moment to ask someone’s name, say “Hey” to the acquaintance we might not know very well — we won’t be “making the most of it.”
This barista and I had a conversation. It was brief, yes, but I learned that she has friends in my hometown, and she would be content living a life where she travels. Maybe these facts are just frivolous and truly don’t mean anything from the standpoint of getting to know someone, but then again, maybe they’re the basis for it. Maybe if we started paying more attention to the world around us and asked strangers about what it is that makes them feel alive, that is what “making the most of it” looks like.
I don’t think finding love at a coffee shop means sitting with your nose in a book just waiting for your soulmate to plop themselves down in front of you — I think it has a deeper meaning. What is the point in existing on this earth if we don’t take the time to connect with the people around us? Love doesn’t just throw itself at you, but if you’re open to it, you might start to view this world through a more loving lens. Finding love at a coffee shop means genuine connection. It means smiling at strangers, learning something about what makes them tick and what it is that makes them unique.
Ask the barista about their hopes and dreams. Ask them about their past and the path that led them to be standing behind a bar polishing mugs and guzzling espresso for a living. Who’s to say what can come out of that connection later down the road?
Skylar Wampler is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org