Docksquare Coffee House is a small green building on the Mousam River in Kennebunkport, Maine. It stands half way in the water, with a community of others on pillars. This cafe always has the scent of freshly ground coffee that anyone can smell from a block away. Its atmosphere is brought to life by live edge wood countertops, the slate grey walls and the eager baristas behind the bar. The coffee, pastries, and salty sea air are some things that establish the feelings of comfort within this quaint shop. It is a place many people call their second home, including myself. This coastal cafe is where I devoted a majority of my time starting in March of 2012, Docksquare Coffee House is where my idea to move out of a small town all began.
That quaint coffee house that I called home for five years has so much nostalgia brewing inside. Docksquare Coffee House helped me shape relationships with others and develop an understanding of hard work. A handful of people would come every year just for a good cup of coffee. I became friends with a photographer named Stacey, who was from New Zealand. He consistently had his Nikon and a patterned button down shirt on. His order was a Latte to stay. Stacey would sit for hours, chatting about his day, life, or making conversation with the strangers who happened to catch his eye. His stories of Thailand, Ireland, and Paris had me daydreaming of new adventures. Though seeing a familiar face in a crowded shop is warming and always made the day a little sweeter, I, however, couldn’t stop thinking of moving away.
While I grew up right around the corner from Docksquare Coffee House, I would rarely go inside until I moved to another side of town years later. It wasn’t my first barista job, but it is the most memorable. Out of my four siblings, two of them worked there during various periods. I started working there in 2012 with my brother Ario, who was the charm of the town as locals would say. He wore consistent things every day – White t-shirt, dark blue jeans, and black mid-top converse. His sense of humor was sarcasm, which people loved. Especially, the people from New England who could dish it right back at him. He taught me everything there. Tricks to fix the somewhat broken espresso machine that always spewed hot water at you. The rickety grinder that you had to hold the cord in the right spot just to work. Ario truly knew Docksquare from the inside out, he was the go to guy for everyone and always could make a bad situation turn right.
My brother obtained a new job about 2 years after I had started and handed management over to me when I was 19 years old. Spring of 2016 came and I was going on my 4th season of serving coffee. I was drained. I had worked 45-50 hour weeks since starting there. That wasn’t the issue. It was the new founded responsibilities that came into my hands. I dealt with vendors, made sure pastries were picked up from the bakery, and our bulk coffee orders placed on top of scheduling, bank runs and paper good orders. The hardest part was learning to maintain a life outside of work. I had a minimal staff, around 8-10 people in the summer and 4 during the slower months. I found myself there on my scheduled days off, checking in on everyone. I couldn’t help the feeling of security I felt inside those warm walls. It was becoming suffocating living in a small town.
The coffee shop closed down every New Years Day and reopened in either March or April. There would be days throughout the seasons that I would sit by a window and think about where to go next. I would watch the weather patterns change while enjoying a cup of something strong. Spring meant hot coffee to take the chill off. Summer was for shots of espresso or maybe an iced tea with seltzer would wake me up. Fall would bring ciders and tea, and the Winter would be cups of hot chocolate and lattes. Except as seasons would pass and friends would travel, I’d be secure in the same spot doing the same thing. I felt something needed to change, but I was intimidated to move away from my family.
My Fiancé Sam and I had purchased tickets to fly to Oregon for 2 weeks in September of 2017. The months went by quickly, leading up to an anxious feeling once we arrived at his parent’s house in Hillsboro. We filled our time with trips to the coast, visited a winery, and took a trip to Forks, Washington for a few days. Everything about the West Coast was starting to appeal to me. Portland, Oregon showed some promise of limited snow fall, warmer summers and gardening just about all year. The trip to the Northwest made my whole sense of being want something more, I wanted to get away from my secure home by the sea.
The next step – convince Sam that moving across the country is a good idea. Moving to another coast meant changes for both us. It all made sense at first, a new beginning with new places and new people to meet. New mountains to hike and a new coast to discover. In November we decided on a moving date, May 2018. I didn’t think time could go by as quickly as it did within those 6 months. Before I knew it the car was packed with guitars, amps, clothes, books, and camping gear. Sam and I set off on a road trip to start a new life. Even, though I was deeply readied to set sail on a new adventure, I cringed at the idea of leaving a town that was a part of my being. I was so impatient to be released from my small town blues, that I didn’t realize that years of driving by the sea to work to see all the locals and the scent of my favorite coffee bean could feel that it was an eternity ago.
Coastal towns and sun-kissed faces in the Northwest remind me of bittersweet days, sitting in traffic to rush to work. There were be nights I would stop outside of the coffee house doors just to inhale the crisp sea air to feel grounded once again and I would remember that I lived in vacation land. It’s a small tourist town with a lot of memories and short seasons. I feel a sense of loneliness and craving for my home town. For which I crave the most are familiar faces in crowded bars or grocery stores. It has taken me a few months to adjust to living on the West Coast. It’s not easy to define where home is; to me it’s somewhere I feel comfortable not just with the people but the town or city itself. Now I sit at a local cafe in downtown Hillsboro, Oregon, and watch others from a different perspective, so I breathe it all in, the endless peace, the comforting familiarity of home. Baristas doing their job as I reminisce of an old home in the swirling cup of coffee in my hand.