I Started My Book In A Coffee Shop: Highly Recommend!

Apr 25, 2024 by Amber McClain Shaw, in Blog Posts
My notebook

I was staying on the Miracle Mile, Michigan Ave in Chicago, where Lynley and I always stayed when visiting Chicago for the transplant process. The hotel was also a block from the transplant surgeon’s clinic and the hospital. It was comforting to be in such a familiar location. Those stairs, covered in black and white carpet where we took a photo together, are still there, but the lobby was redecorated. It was brighter and more colorful but less inviting. The little bar was closed. The now unfamiliar lobby held no appeal. I had planned to hang out there with my memories but decided against it. There was a new colossal coffee palace near the hotel on Michigan Ave, that I could see from my room. I’ll see if there’s a place to sit for a while. I was alone and wanted to be around others instead of in my room.

The coffee place was like a shrine to all things coffee-related: a Starbucks Roastery in what looked like a former department store (remember those?), complete with a curving escalator from the ground floor to the second floor. It was four stories of coffee, with beans jangling along pneumatic tubes along the ceilings. I joined the line on the second floor, ordered, and found a seat at a high table. The place was busy, but the tables were not too close together. The floor-to-ceiling windows let in a lot of light and afforded a nice view of the bustling sidewalks and the skyscrapers, including my hotel and the building where the kidney clinic is located. I sipped my fragrant, strong coffee and got out my notebook. I caressed the New Zealand jade pendant with a carved kidney-shaped hole I was wearing. This seemed like the moment to officially start the project I’ve been thinking about writing for a long time. I wanted to write it with her, but it's up to me now.  

Writing and thinking, looking around once in a while but absorbed in my own thoughts, I was startled by a woman standing at my table saying, “Excuse me.” I didn’t see her approach.

She said, “Sorry to interrupt you, but I wanted to tell you. I don’t know what you do, but you have this aura, this energy, that is amazing. It’s very positive. You remind me of Brene Brown. You know who she is?” 

Amused and surprised, I said “Yes, I know who she is.” 

“Anyway,” she said, “I just wanted to tell you.” 

“Thank you! What do you do?” I asked, thinking maybe she was a psychic dressed as a tourist in a pink sweatshirt, jeans, and blond ponytail. 

She laughed. “I’m an accountant. I have no idea why I had to come over and talk to you. Keep doing what you are doing.” 

I looked her in the eye with the most sincere thank you, my skin tingling and electrified, my eyes wide. For a moment I wondered what was in my coffee, but I recognized her message as a sign, an affirmation that I’m writing the story I should be writing. As she walked away, I looked down at my notebook and the start of my story, and wrote the word WOW. Whatever else happened during this visit to Chicago, I got more than I could have hoped. 

I sipped my dark, strong coffee, buzzing with caffeine and awe, wondering wait a minute, what does Brene Brown have to do with this? Vulnerability? That we can do hard things? Maybe I’ll talk to Brene about my book someday! Oh my, that would have thrilled Lynely.