coffee.jpgBefore “Born To Run” was played at a 1988 concert, Bruce Springsteen was candid with the crowd. He wrote “Born To Run” in his bedroom in Long Branch, New Jersey, when he was 24 years old. “The questions I asked myself in this song, it seems like I’ve been trying to find the answers to them ever since,” he said.

He thought he was writing about a guy and a girl who were born to run and keep on running.

“That was a nice, romantic idea,” he explained. “But I realized, after I put all those people in all those cars, I was gonna have to figure out some place for them to go. I realized that individual freedom, when it’s not connected to some sort of community, or friends, or the world outside, ends up feeling pretty meaningless. I guess that guy and that girl were out there looking for connection, and I guess that’s what I’m doing here tonight. So, this is a song about two people trying to find their way home.”

Last March, a relationship in my life was unraveling. I stepped into a local coffee shop, looking for something, anything, to hold onto. I was riding an emotional rollercoaster, and I was exhausted.

In this place with artsy decor and brick walls that reminded me of Brooklyn, I met a stranger. As I clutched my mug of black tea, yearning for the caffeine to smack me awake, I temporarily forgot about loss and heartbreak. I talked to this person for a long while, and we connected.

I began returning to this coffee shop frequently. It was a bridge to other connections, other friends and brand new, unexpected experiences that all left an impact.

The coffee shop’s live music scene played an integral role in kinship as well. Open mic nights, every Thursday, created unity and epitomized community; a shared ground to bond over song and performance and enthusiasm. ’90s covers. Quirky rock. Bluesy soul. Acoustic stylings. Jazz. Yet, even when the music stopped, community remained. Other coffee shop goers were most likely hoping to find a sense of belonging, too.

Strangers became familiar. Strangers across the coffee bar and strangers seated in the same space became real friends: friends with whom I spent the summer; friends who came into my life when I unequivocally needed friendship.

The 20s bring about limbo — grey space — immediate uncertainty for what’s to come. Though, when I truly think about it, any age can incorporate intimidating unknowns.

The coffee shop culture may encourage community and connection. These environments can become a staple, a comfort during a time when unpredictability is heightened.

I don’t go for the tea. I don’t go for the coffee. I don’t go for the wi-fi. I go because it feels like home.