Cho's Variety in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is a coffee shop with an excellent french press and a bakery counter full of delicious muffins from Blue Sky Bakery (so delicious, in fact, they inspired these). For many people in the neighborhood, that might be all it is. To me, its a lot more. See, I found Cho's Variety on my first unemployed day in New York City. It was a Wednesday morning--I'd flown to New York City jobless, with a one-way ticket the night before. The friends I was staying with in Williamsburg had jobs to go to on Wednesdays, so that morning I wandered out of the apartment with my laptop and wallet and frankly, a lot of spare time. I "discovered" Cho's Variety-a packed coffee shop on a main street-and it instantly became my spot. I used the wifi there to constantly search for jobs. I forced friends meet me there, insisting I'd found a hidden gem. I even paid my friends in muffins and coffee from Cho's the morning they came to help me move from Brooklyn to my very first apartment in New York City (yes, it was a fifth floor walk up...and yes, they did deserve a lot more than muffins and coffee).
Isn't it funny how certain spots in your city or a walk along a certain route in an old neighborhood can force you to pause and remember a different time?
Very little has stayed the same since the first time I crossed the threshold of that little coffee shop. The couple who so generously let me stay with them in my first two months in NYC, who made me tea when I was upset in those rocky first few months and introduced me to their friends and New York favorites--they've gotten engaged and married in the last two and a half years. The friends who helped me move apartments in exchange for muffins have either moved away from the city in pursuit of other dreams or have become legitimate New Yorkers--no longer newbies in a big, unknown city. And of course, I'm different too. Relationships have changed, plans have changed. Paradigms have undeniably shifted.