Venturing Out and Eclectic Finds

Well, I guess I’ll admit it. I had a rough time getting through this week.

Not that my struggles are as bad as so many individuals out there, but I definitely wouldn’t wish to inflict on anyone, not even an enemy, an anxiety disorder like mine. It’s so difficult to explain how something like anxiety, something that everyone experiences and feels every now and then, can be such an incredibly overwhelming and constant force in mine, despite living a pretty privileged life, that it completely exhausts and drains me as thoroughly as the Boston marathon can exhaust and drain its participants. I really don’t think it computes for a majority of people what it feels like, so I usually don’t speak up about it even when my anxiety has flared up so significantly that I’m limping to bed like a 90-year-old, arthritic woman because of muscle tension so intense that it leaves my body aching and weak.

To be honest though, sometimes, not even I can comprehend it. I don’t know why I shake like a wet chihuahua during every single one-on-one conversation that I have with people outside of my family, and I’ve lost count of the number of hours I have spent lying in my bed, fretting about why I can’t just get to fucking sleep. No amount of treatment has seemed to help in this regard (at least, not without causing other, more serious issues).

And then when you add on the IBS and migraines that also make appearances during times of great stress, it seems kind of odd to label an anxiety disorder as just a mental illness. At that point, it feels like a pretty miserable physical one to me.

But anyway, as I scanned the news this past week about the global pandemic and national protests, earthquakes in Yellowstone and asteroids heading our way, the president’s ramblings and general bat-shit crazy antics at the same time as I was studying for two exams, prepping for a quick trip back to Austin, and working as a graduate assistant and consultant, I noticed that I was hunkering into what I like to call “Survival Mode.”

Now Survival Mode can be good during traumatic and chaotic times to a certain extent and can prevent further mental and emotional damage and pain, but for me, it usually means a complete mental lockdown which results in severe isolation, dissociation, and maladaptive daydreaming. At a time when so many people are clamoring to open things back up and leave their homes, I realized that if I didn’t do something about my steadily increasing anxiety immediately, I was going to have an extremely difficult time getting fully back out into the world when it was deemed safe to do so.

So I made a plan.

And it was actually quite simple: After my last exam of the week, I was to make haste to the nearest coffee shop, and I was to get a god damn espresso drink and some fresh fucking air.

Simple, right? And believe it or not, it was actually super effective.

Why? Well, let me explain.

To my relief even before leaving the house, now that Spokane is in Phase II of reopening, some of the coffee shops/cafes that were shut down have been opening back up. Considering my disappointment with the quality of many of the places that remained open, I was desperate to find a place with even just a modicum of coffee quality, so I set my sights on a recently reopened store that kept popping up in my Google searches: Rocket Bakery.

I’ll admit, I was a little disappointed upon looking at the menu when I arrived at the store. Where the fuck was the cappuccino? Did they not make cappuccinos? How good could the coffee possibly be if they didn’t sell cappuccinos? Wasn’t the cappuccino the ultimate test for well-trained baristas? God, I just wanted a fucking cappuccino.

So I ordered a latte.

Drama queen, coffee snob moment over, I grabbed my drink and pumpkin bread and then proceeded outside to walk around the neighborhood. Fumbling with my mask and Invisalign trays, I was cursing myself for my lack of coordination and the decision to leave my house…

…until the moment I took a sip of my latte.

Oh, y’all, it was heaven. The espresso wasn’t bitter. The milk wasn’t burnt. The foam was silky smooth.

Suddenly, I felt as if all was right with the world. I had finally gotten some good coffee in Spokane.

The few other people out on the street probably thought I was high or something with the look of bliss that must have covered my face. I mean, I was kind of stumbling about in a coffee daze.

At least, that was until I noticed an odd store sign out of the corner of my eye.

Was that a crystal shop?

That was not quite what I expected to see in a suburban area of a majority republican city.

And as I continued my walk down the block, I noticed that this was not the only unique, eclectic shop in the area. In fact, the entire street was filled with an eclectic array of businesses. Next to the crystal shop was a antique toy store. Just down the block and across the street stood an art school and improv theater. Across from there a diner and burger stand. Vintage shops, a BBQ joint, a couple of dive bars, a candle shop, nail salons, a tattoo parlor, an upscale eatery, a mercantile, and more all graced the same street as the delicious Rocket Bakery.

There weren’t a ton of people milling about while I was there but I could definitely imagine the liveliness of the neighborhood in pre-pandemic times. It seemed to have a little bit of everything for everyone, and despite the current emptiness, it resonated with energy and creativity.

Excited at the thought of visiting once social distancing guidelines can be safely relaxed, I decided to head across town to run some errands, the drive granting me a chance to explore more of this unfamiliar city.

And by the time I was done, I didn’t want to go home. I was even starting to feel a little relaxed.

So moral of the story: Well-made lattes make everything better.

Go get you some.

Your favorite coffee snob,

The one and the only Pookachino

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