Every morning I roll out of bed and pull on the same ripped jeans and a t-shirt, slip my feet into a pair of Birks, twist my hair up to a top knot. I grab the camera and a book and go. I wind my way through the quiet, leafy back streets parallel to King and am passed by cyclists, joggers and early morning commuters. They’re all being pulled towards the city, carried along by an invisible current. I’m swimming up stream. I keep an eye out for neighbourhood cats, will them to come out of their homes so I can say hello and scratch their furry chins. First stop is the little fruit and veg shop run by the two brothers. ‘Extra ginger, right?’ George makes me a juice and we trade small pieces of information. I know what time he gets up and the TV shows he watches at night. I know that he’s trying to cut back on carbs. I sip my juice and walk a few steps further down the way to my coffee place, Shenkin. ‘Morning!’ beams Joss. ‘The usual?’ Wow, that. I mean, all any of us really want in this world is to be known by our barista, right? For ages Joss called me ‘miss’ but the other day he asked me my name and told me his. This morning he’s playing Melody’s Echo Chamber and I can’t hide my delight. I drink my flat white and read my book and watch King Street chaos out the window. The ‘coffee feeling’ – wellbeing and optimism mixed with motivation and clarity – washes over me and I start scribbling notes on a page of my journal, urgently, before the revelations slip away. I make sense and I make plans. I hand over coins, put a few in the tip jar, and mouth ‘bye’ to Joss who’s now swamped with orders, caffeine addicts in suits and pencil skirts with runners staring him down. As I pass the supermarket I notice someone has spray painted ‘GROW UP!’ on the wall in big red letters. ‘Trying,’ I mumble to myself as I take a photo. The protruding roots of the giant fig tree next to the church provide the perfect place for me to perch and read a few more pages (just a few more, just a few more). I don’t know the time but I feel the responsibilities of the day drawing me home. That invisible current is picking me up, carrying me back towards the city. It’s nice, this start to the day.
It really is a lovely little life but not one I ever imagined. When I was a teenager I thought about what it would be like to go to uni and I thought about what it would be like to be married and I thought about what it would be like to be a mum. I didn’t think about what it would be like to be 31 and single and living in a terrace house in the city with Rachel. The options, the uncertainty, the fun, the spontaneity, the emptiness, the possibilities, the longing, this way? that way? both. You know, I think I’m in love with all of it and maybe I’d like to stay around a wee while (just a wee while, just a wee while) and get to know this place, this unfamiliar un-thought about place.
Rachel’s getting to know this place, too. She just wrote a special piece about life round here.