We meet at a coffee shop and I want a latte but order iced coffee because it’s just so hot.
There are no pretty flowers in creamy foam on an iced coffee but I add milk that sinks in white streams between blocks of ice; streams of white in the dark liquid.
I add too much because I’m watching it swirl as it falls.
I love meeting people for stories at coffee shops. We have a conference room but it’s generally in use and the back-up is small, cluttered and houses an often-in-demand coffee maker. So I go for the coffee shop that’s just a few blocks away, save my receipts for reimbursement, and remember that I love what I do.
We sit on soft chairs grouped around a coffee table to talk about the new rescue group while a child wanders from the toys in the corner to the fish tank by us, asks me to eat the plastic Oreos she’d collected in a bag, asked please can she pet the fish?
Her mother asks her to tell me about her dog and she’s suddenly shy, sips her smoothie with focus but cuts her eyes back at me, watchful. She doesn’t say anything else to me the rest of the time, aware now I’m a stranger.
We talk about dogs and raising funds and how they got started and what’s left to do and the condensation on my glass drips down, leaves a ring on the silver tray and drops onto my notebook pages, blue ink smudging.
I rise to leave and place my silver tray on the cart but see her in the back corner, the sister here for a while but escaping the heat of the house and I finish the last of my drink with her.
And it’s hot walking back to work but it’s been good to step out and I remind myself to do this again.
It’s easier to talk when there’s coffee, more natural, something to do other than watch my pen scratch across the paper. It’s good to step out of the office, even if heat is radiating up from the pavement.
And it’s good to watch cream swirl down between ice cubes in a glass of cold coffee.