I saw this in Starbucks this morning, accompanied by a little sign that spoke of “Starbuck’s commitment to origins.” It is their contention that the farmers who grow the beans that are used for this blend are “guaranteed a fair price for their harvest.”
I stood looking at the pale, earth-toned bag nestled in with all the brightly foiled bags of blue and red sporting names calculated to convey the exoticism of the morning draught of choice. French Roast. Gold Coast. Kenya. Sumatra. Mild and bold blends filling the space on the shelves, each a seeming play on our need for adventure. A safari for our mouths, perhaps. There is only one in the whole array that guarantees farmers “a fair price for their harvest.” I’m thinking that it’s safe to assume that the others do not.
“Am I a bad person?” “No.” She laughed. “That was pretty easy. Will there be more?” “Sure. How about, ‘am I broken, and if so, can I be fixed?’” “That depends on what you mean by ‘broken.’ What are you hoping to convey with the term?” “I’m not sure. Honestly, broken for me has come to mean just that. When I say, ‘I’m broken,’ I’m trying to say that I don’t think I can take anymore, and that I don’t think I have the strength to change that.” “Well, do you mean to ask then if I think that what we’re doing is worthwhile? What do you want to accomplish here?. I know that I’m turning your question around and I apologize, but my ideas on this are not as important as your perceptions.” “I don’t know. I mean, I get glimpses, but the ideas seem really broad and vague. I want to be able to live a life that’s less governed by fear. I want to feel like I have a life that’s worth living…” “The more you can narrow the answers, the more direction we can have.” “I guess what I’m getting at is whether you have hope for me.” “Yes.”
I paused at this point, trying to frame my next question coherently, or perhaps attempting to work up the courage to ask it. Before I managed it, she asked, “Is this a long test?” “I’m not sure, why?” “I get test anxiety.” She was smiling. “…and I wasn’t prepared for a pop quiz.” “Seriously? This is making you anxious?” She laughed a little. “No. At least not much.” “Ok, then, here’s an easy one. It’s not really what I had planned to ask, but consider it extra credit…” “Retooling standard test structure?” “Yeah, normally the extra credit questions come at the end of the test. For our purposes, you get one in the middle.” “Ok, shoot.” “Did you see Fight Club at the Brattle this weekend?” “No, I didn’t. I didn’t know it was playing. They showed it on the big screen?” “Yeah, it was listed in the Phoenix and I decided to catch it at the last minute. I made it into my seat just as the opening credits began to roll.” I thought for a moment. “For some reason, I had it in my head that I would turn around and see you sitting in the audience, but didn’t.”
It’s an embarrassing thing to say for all its admission, but I’ve known her long enough that I don’t think it’s that strange that I’d like her to be a proper friend instead of a special one.
There was another silence. I always worry over silences because I feel like I should be doing something entertaining. I feel guilty because I have a hard time talking about myself when someone is really listening. Somewhere in the midst of all of it, I came up with what I had been trying to ask. “Do you think I should be on meds?” “Honestly? I don’t know. I’d like for you to be able to sleep. Insomnia is terrible.” “Yeah, I’d like that too. There are other things I’d like to see it accomplish, but that would be a pretty impressive start.”