With my accounting finals a day away, three of us from our class decided to meet at a cafe to go over class notes and prepare for class. Till the moment I left home I was ambivalent. Part of it stemmed from my reluctance to drive to any place I am not familiar with and the other was the fear that I might feel out of place. I decided to brave my fears and got behind the wheel fully equipped for the 27 degree weather with a turtleneck sweater, gloves, a woollen cap and a warm jacket on top.
Driving out on a clear, cold winter day was startlingly good. I enjoyed my drive out to the Steamed Cow Cafe. A little gem of a family owned place hidden in the quaint Downingtown downtown. Circling around to find parking I found a desolate borough parking that was empty save my Prius. Laptop in hand, I braved the howling winds and opened the wooden door to a cozy coffee house. The owners were the only ones there. After a friendly welcome from the owner I picked a place by the window and waited for my friends to arrive. The windows were lined with books. The hum of the old fashioned radiator was reassuring and the smell of fresh brewed coffee divine. I was feeling sleepy when I spied my friend down the road. Breaking out into my trademark grin, I waved hi and as she got settled we ordered a coffee for me and green tea for her. The other person in our threesome team also arrived and we moved our stuff upstairs to an even cozier room filled with knick knacks and old fashioned furniture. There was a fire going in the fireplace and overstuffed couches right by it. We picked two couches and spread our textbooks and papers around. Sipping delicious coffee and munching on pumpkin spiced pecan biscotti, an hour or more passed. We worked through statement of cash flows and moved on to reviewing our mid term questions.
Taking breaks to get grilled sandwiches or talk about how we all got to being the same class, I realized how much I missed this kind of camaraderie. The easy exchange of stories, the bonding over lessons and the ability to reach out and form bonds of new friendship. As the store closed for the night at 8:00 PM, we wrapped up and waved byes before heading out into the chill night. Tugging my coat closer for warmth I hurried to the lot where I had left my car and was relieved to find it still there. Dumping my heavy bag on the passenger seat, I adjusted the seat belts and looked around nervously. Backing out I turned into what seemed an easy route back to where I came from. Horror of horrors, there was a Wrong Way board staring at me. Tempted to make a dash for it, I gave into my better self and turned around to try and find an alternate route back to where I needed to go. Peering in the darkness, blinded by it, I drove slowly fear creeping into my mind that I was getting lost. Turning often like I do to glance at the rear view mirrors, I noticed bright flashing lights right behind me. Great! now a cop. I slowed and pulled over wondering if I was being stopped for driving too slow.
After what seemed ages, a smart officer walked by my window. “Hello Ma’am!” he said politely. “Hi!” I said feeling rather scared. “You don’t seem to have your headlights on.”. Then it occurred to me. No wonder I had not been able to see clearly. “Sorry! I stuttered and turned my lights on.” After looking at my licence and registration and after what seemed eternity, the officer returned with an official looking card along with my papers. “I am letting you go with a warning.” he said and then after I requested him to point me the right way to get to where I needed to go, he muttered some directions and left. Following his instructions I ended up even more lost. Fear was chilling me as much as the temperature. One more mile I thought to myself before I pulled over and relied on my trusty iPhone to lead me home. As I kept driving I noticed signs that seemed familiar. One mile became three and eventually I found myself in a section I was familiar with. Relief coursed my veins and I drove with abandon. Pulling into my garage, I muttered a quick prayer and bounded upstairs to pour everything out to a concerned K.
Typing out the entire narrative I realized how much I enjoyed the evening inspite of the small detour and my rather shaky driving skills. There is something to be told of pushing myself out of my comfort zone. To make that leap of faith and to trust. Hoping today is the first of many such study groups and to new journeys into friendships.