The most social places in town have always been, for me, the library and the co-op. They’re what I’ve missed most in this New Way of Things: running into friends or just seeing the same folks around town and asking those Minnesota questions: about the weather, the state of the firewood, the patience (or lack thereof) for tourists, the status of the blueberry picking, and on and on.
Few things have provided as much satisfaction per dollar spent as a meal eaten at the co-op, perched on a stool at the counter and chatting with everyone who walks past (or who is parked with a laptop in a home-away-from-home office).
There hasn’t been any dining-in there for more than a year.
But today I ran into a friend as she was leaving and I was going in. We stood and talked until someone asked if we were in line– and then we moved to the cold concrete steps where I think we might have sat for an hour, until the wind shifted and the damp in the air roused us at last.
Someone I’d only crossed paths with while looking at a house stopped and introduced himself– “Did you buy it? “No, did you?” And we talked about the housing market and the public schools in Minneapolis (where he works) and the beauty of incinerating toilets (which he just bought).
I waved hellos to locals I know by name or just by sight. I think I had close to a full therapy session sitting next to a bag of groceries. I parked myself right in the middle of my community. I showed up. I belonged. I connected.
And the bougie juice I bought afterward was a pretty sweet bonus.