The small town I work in is at the foot of a mountain, on a quiet square in what feels like a peaceful village. It’s a small coffee shop, and I met everyone for the first time today, folks with long histories in the shop, and it was very clear that we all loved being there. It’s still too soon to know regulars, but I loved everyone I met today. And it was a sad day to join the community. Some customers (honestly I can’t stand calling them that, it seems to impersonal) came in and were visibly distraught from the school shooting. I couldn’t help that think that one of the children in the store, whose mother bought her a hot chocolate, might have been one of them. There was a genuine hush behind the counter in the shop, I remember hearing in the warm silences that seemed to envelop us all, as our barista asked what temperature would be best for her. We made the drink very carefully, and the family walked out the door and into the bright, grey day.
It was almost a thunderstorm, like the coulds could burst forth at any time. Each person in the shop was like that, a sadness that could really be felt, and one man suggested that he would renounce his citizenship. It’s a thought I heard echoed by friends of mine who thought that there’s nothing we can do, like nothing will ever get done. What you feel when you’re serving coffee on a square in a small town though, is that you’re very much a part of America. The community we are in feels almost like it’s from a different time, one where this kind of violence didn’t happen, but there it was as it was felt by all of us. “I’m sorry for crying,” a man said as he was overcome with emotion. “It’s OK, it’s human!,” I said back to him. The day just drifted. We were busy but there was a hushed tone, not delicate, just whole. You could feel the community together.
I understand this feeling. I did research when I got home, exhausted from the days work but able to sit through the press conference, and I’ve never seen the press pool like this before, everyone was affected by it, it almost seemed like this time could be different, at least from what I saw when I got home. But it may not be, it could very well be, as an article in the BBC I read suggested, that any laws that will be passed will likely be overturned. It’s easy to give up on America in times like this, but feeling what i felt today in the square wasn’t like that at all. I was in a perfect place to understand just what would be lost if my partner and I left the country, and in the shop and in the people I met, I found something that I didn’t have before.
Something beautiful to protect, at all costs, our multicultural place of happiness in the shop around the square, the shops all around us, the people walking by, the pop music on the radio, the promise of a way to make ends meet, the families and high school kids that came in for some coffee for the day. Every moment I had in that shop made me fall more and more deeply in love with this country, and protecting it is worth fighting for. I’m one small voice, but I ask you, whoever is in the government right now to do everything they can to find a solution to this crisis. This time has to be different. I’m in a community where it could happen. And it can’t happen here too.
We’re part of the community, I felt it from the very first day. I’m not outraged anymore, something else has given way, the deep resolve, so different this time, that we have to protect our communities, at every level, in every shop, in every community center, and that can only happen when we have the tools to do this. Do this America, keep us here. I don’t want to leave, but we may. It was a difficult but beautiful first day in the shop today, one I’ll never forget.
There were no storms today, because the people held up the firmament of the heavens, with every heavy heart, every compassionate cry, and I hope we warmed at least someone in an uncommonly cold summer day. We’re doing all we can, but we can’t do it alone. Do everything you can to change this country, what I saw today gave me complete resolve, I’ll do everything I can, for the communities we’re in deserve true peace, every minute of every day, until we are all free.