I may not be religious but that doesn’t mean I don’t have my sacred places. We all do, whether it be in a church, NASCAR on Sundays, the bath, a trail, a leather chair, a room so hot you can stretch your body like it’s young.
Sacred places aren’t just a place of comfort, they’re places of inspiration, where the smallness of our hearts eclipses the largeness of our minds. Places where the impossible seems slightly more possible.
I’m lucky enough to have a few sacred places. The bath (have no shame, bath lovers), the bending boardwalk of Victoria Park, the stretch of sandy beach where my wife and I were married, a leather chair in my library (aka living room), and Starbucks, on the corner of Kent and Great George in downtown Charlottetown.
There are other coffee shops downtown Charlottetown, ones I love, ones I feel a deep connection to (I’m winking at you, Beanz), but tables are precious, especially at lunch, and I don’t have the heart to take up a table over lunch so that I can drink one coffee, tap away at my computer and make people uncomfortable with my dreamy stares. At Starbucks, I never felt such guilt. None of us did because the business, according to Howard Schultz (CEO of Starbucks) runs on this philosophy: “We aren’t in the coffee business serving people. We are in the people business serving coffee.”
Since moving home to Charlottetown, I’ve grown attached to the space on Kent and Great George. It’s the wide windows, every seat has a view that captures the mundane activity of small town: lunch runs, trips to Shoppers, smoke breaks, lost tourists wondering if this is it, the beating heart of downtown Charlottetown. It’s the view of the building where my father cuts hair in the basement, a place I grew up in, curating my love of downtowns from an early age.
Mostly, I love how a loner like myself could go there and write and not feel so lost in my manuscript. Among familiar strangers, I felt inspired, catching small glimpses of the humanity I was trying to capture on the page. A mother and son meeting over coffee, the mother always treating because she is proud of her son who has a real, grown-up job. The retiree lost in a book. Students studying, dreaming of the ways they can change the world.
Yesterday I said goodbye to one of my sacred spaces. It may not look like much from my seat in Starbucks on Kent and Great George, on the last day they served customers, but it felt like a lot.