Back when I was working a nine-to-five-ish job, there was a period of a couple of years when I was lucky enough to live a 10-minute walk from work. (Actually, 50% of the walk was Flower Hill, so it was like 10 minutes to work, 5 minutes from.) During that time, when the weather cooperated, I would drag myself out of bed by 6:00 or so, walk down to Harbourside Park, pick up a coffee on the way, read a chapter of my book and finish my large black, go home and change, and still be at work by 9:00. It was a mysterious luxury, sitting by the water in that quiet hour before the day starts ticking. I used to fantasize that one day I would have a life where I wasn’t beholden to that 9:00 am clock-in time.
I’m writing this blog post in freakin’ Athens (I can’t say Athens without adding some expression of astonishment to it). This morning, I had my coffee and read several chapters on a sunny balcony, then hung my clothes to dry and went down to the street market, all before starting my work day. Things have changed for me, and I am every moment aware of the less-mysterious, more-brazen luxury I am enjoying these days. It’s not a posh life I’m living, but a bizarro twist of fate and risk and adaptation. Things have changed for me, but in those old Harbourside Park mornings I see the seeds of what I’m doing now.
I remember times when I was feeling unhappy in my job and lonely in my own hometown and thinking there has to be more life for me somewhere. Wanting new experiences but not knowing how to change my circumstances. I couldn’t identify a clear career goal, only had a vague shadow of what I wanted my life to look like. And I don’t know why, but when I sat outdoors drinking coffee and reading my book before I started my workday, that indistinct shape was most discernible. Imagine it: a career counsellor asks me what I want to do with my life, and the best I can come up with is read a book and drink coffee outdoors, yeah I’m not getting my tuition funded for that.
How I got from that life to this is a story for another time, but I suspect it started with Harbourside Park mornings. Maybe stepping outside of the necessary routine tricked my brain into imagining new possibilities. Maybe sitting quietly by water gave me access to clearer thought. Or maybe it was just the small measure of pure pointless pleasure that coffee and reading always give me, elevated to a kind of ceremony by the early hour. Probably all of the above.
What is your version of a Harbourside Park morning, that moment in your day when you get a faint glimpse into other possibilities? What do those possibilities look like?