Sunday, November 24, 2019

On Having a "Moment"

Do you ever have "moments" when you're moved to tears, filled with awe, or some other strong emotion?

Today I had one such “moment”.*

No, it’s not a writing-related moment. Well, yeah, in a round-about way it is. But this moment is more a life moment.

Now that I’ve typed that and let it sink in, I’m not sure this qualifies as a “life moment”, either. But to set the stage, after living three and a half years in Idaho, I had yet to replace my writing haunts. Boy have I missed those writing forays.

Courtesy Carlotta Nortaro

Truth is, the coffee shops and restaurants I’ve tried over the intervening years, while charming, just aren’t MY places. Each are inhospitable (to me) in some way. Music too loud, or awful, too cold, too noisy, not enough tables—always something.

I had several mini writing-retreats in Georgia, places to escape the sameness of writing at home.

Johnny’s Pizza is a chain, but has fabulous Brooklyn-style pizza. Not far from my house, the dining room was always fairly empty by 1:30-2:00pm. I could eat and write for a couple of hours without feeling guilty for taking up space. You can thank Johnny’s for the pizza scenes, and Jocko’s Pizza, in Awen Rising.

One of my favorites, Gallery Row Coffee on the Square in downtown Carrollton, has lots of tables, including high-tops with outlets. They serve brewed teas, be still my heart, encourage lingering—studying, writing, creating, meeting friends, business confabs, a quilting club, (I kid you not)—have breakfast and lunch items, delectable gooey delights, and it’s run by my friend Lisa.

For a while, I occasioned Cinema Tavern in downtown Villa Rica for their chicken wings, in spite of the fact that as a bar and grill they somehow manage to get away with indoor smoking. That was the ultimate reason I quit writing there. But thank Cinema Tavern, named after the theater that occupied the space during my youth, for Shalane’s predilection for wings.

There are a few other places I would buzz into. PhatPhil’s, Fabiano’s, Highland Deli, Manuel's Tavern, to name a few. Not on a regular, ongoing basis, but important subs when I got tired of my regular haunts.

My favorite was, and still is, Chat& Choo on the main drag in Villa Rica. It's in the space once occupied by Berry’s Pharmacy, a short walk from my house and office, and a place of which I have fond memories as a child. Mr friends, Mike and Glenn, have retained much of the paraphernalia, and serve excellent, friendly meals, Southern Style.

Which leads me back to my “moment”.

In about an hour, I have an appointment with another new hairdresser. I'm having a hard time finding someone who can release the inner beauty of my curls. Since the salon is in Caldwell, about seven miles from my house, I decided to audition a restaurant.

The name is Mr. V’s Family Restaurant and it’s on the edge of downtown, near the courthouse. I got here late enough that people were leaving and the “Please Seat Yourself” sign faced out. Excellent. I selected a four-top—two-tops are too short to have a laptop and meal side-by-side—and was almost instantly acknowledged by a waitress.

Mr V's - Caldwell, ID

A half-minute later, my waiter let me know he’d be right back. Excellent. He gave me a menu and walked away and as I read through it, tears started bubbling up behind my eyes. This place is clean. Well-loved. Friendly. And it’s been in business in this exact spot since 1975. It holds the current #1 rating on Trip Adviser, and has now earned a slot as my new writing retreat.

But those tears? And the feeling that prompted them?

That was my moment. It came while reading through Mr. V’s breakfast items, which they serve from open to close. Maybe it was reading the word bacon, or maybe it was the home-baked bread toast, but a feeling of belonging welled up inside me that could not be denied.

Finally. A new writing venue. One with decent food, soft classic rock, and people genuinely happy to feed me and let me sit with my laptop for a spell.

What "moments" have you had recently? One that lit you up and made you happy?

~ That Rebel, Olivia J. Herrell, writing as  O.J. Barré

* This piece was written on Tuesday, November 19, 2019.

O.J. Barré is the author of the Awen trilogy, a druid urban fantasy set in 2042. Steeped in current, ancient, and future history twists, Book One, Awen Rising (set in Atlanta, Georgia) debuted August 1, 2019, in both ebook and paperback. Book Two, Awen Storm, is slated for release May 1, 2020. Book Three, Awen Tide, arrives May 1, 2021.

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