today was a special day. it was my first co-fika. that’s right. i finally had a chance to fika with someone, getting the full effect of the other way to fika – together. remember, there are two ways that i like to categorize fikas: those when you enjoy a coffee by yourself, whether you are working or just reading a book. and there are those fikas when you meet someone and enjoy a long cup of coffee, or two, together. this is the heart of the swedish fika – sharing moments together. creating community. nurturing friendships. enjoying family. (to read more about my understanding of fika, click here).
today’s fika was a shared experience. the creator of AshevilleBlog (where my fika project is also featured) and i have been trying to get together for weeks. like really. and every single time something came up for one or both of us. but, on this day, we planned to meet at a cool place i’d never even heard of – book exchange and champagne bar (which also serves coffee, of course!). i was super excited… about the exchange/bar and about meeting AB in person!
alas, it was not meant to be. oh, we were actually able to meet, but just before our meeting time, i got a message from AB that the book exchange was closed for renovations. so, where would we go now? well, since it was a beautiful fall day and i was already downtown and most definitely in the mood for walking a little bit, i suggested an old favorite of mine… a place i have not visited since being back in the states, and a place i have not experienced as part of this project, but one of my absolute favorite places in asheville. like… i looooove it.
on lexington avenue, one of the most fun avenues in downtown asheville, sits a little cafe full of funkiness and good vibes. izzy’s coffee den. the very first time i visited izzy’s i thought to myself, “i want to live in asheville and come here all the time. i want to be a local and sit here, doing work with people over coffee, chatting with my love. i want to know enough people that i can stand out outside & chat, where people gather & hold their lattes while they shoot the breeze.” well, after how every many years, i can do just that, if i want. of course, after this fika project is over.
i walked inside and immediately began snapping photos. part of what i love about izzy’s is the atmosphere. it’s eclectic, a little darkish, industrial, and funky. of course, it has a warehouse feel to it, with the exposed brick and pipes. there are little lights strung across the ceiling – you know i love that – and art displayed on the darkly painted walls. the vibe is calm and cool and relaxed.
by the counter, there is an area filled with information and announcements. and there is a lot of stuff there: tips on art exhibitions, music & bands, spirituality, activist issues, alternative health, protests, and, typical in these more progressive and funky coffeehouses, free condoms. a veritable plethora of cultural and alternative resources. immediately that communicates to me that this is a place that thinks, that cares, that accepts.
there was a a bit of a different crowd than i remembered last time i was here. it was older. still a bit more funky and alternative, but older. at least the crowd that was having there coffee to stay. a group of men huddled discussing something. some middle-aged men sat alone in the back, both working on their computers. a man & a woman, perhaps in their 30s, sat at the bar working on their computers. some younger folks came in and got coffee to go, but it was a chill, quiet, nice crowd of people. the thing is, this is a place (as others) that is openly welcome to all people. it is a coffee den, a place to come and hang out, as you are.
i caught up with AB now, who was actually already in the cafe, when she texted to tell me she was there. i had gotten wrapped up in taking photos. oops. we put down our things and stood at the counter to order our coffee. a pumpkin latte, in honor of autumn, was on the docket for me. then, we sat down and chatted away for about 2 hours. a real swedish fika, folks. it was really fun & super cozy. and i love meeting new people.
with pumpkin latte in my belly and a smile on my face, i said goodbye to izzy’s for the day and headed out to wander the streets of asheville again. i slowly walked, snapping photos whenever something beautiful caught my eye, and thought about the amazing opportunities that life brings – if we are willing to get out of our comfort zones. and, how easy it is to meet people, or at least strike up a conversation with them, if we are just willing to be aware and open. and who knows where those conversations may lead…
amazingly, as i was thinking about these things and walking, i was approached by a woman, who was filling her parking meter with quarters, who said that she loved photographers. she thought that we (photographers, that is!) are so cool. i did not dispute what she said. i am just admitting it. i am a photographer & a write. period. hehe. love that. then, continued on my way. i turned the corner and headed toward my car, when a man stopped me and asked for a quarter. he was so calm & polite. and apologized fro disturbing me. and he only asked for a quarter. of course, i began rummaging through my wallet, knowing i had no cash, but perhaps some coins. i emptied my coin area and gave him about 33 cents. he was extremely thankful. he told me that it was hard on the streets, and i asked him how long he had been homeless. since last november, he said. i told him about some places that could maybe help him and then wished him well. he looked me in the eyes, i looked directly back, and he said, “you know what, m’am? peace, love, and happiness to you.” i then smiled really big and told him that i wished the same to him… and that i say peace, love, and happiness all the time. he then replied that he believed that he thinks that is what life is all about. i agreed wholeheartedly, we smiled at each other again, and then went our separate ways.
just as i was about to approach my next destination (a bookstore!), i saw this heart drawn on the building near me. and i just felt compelled to capture it. a message of love to the world… a reminder that, as the man said to me: peace, love, and happiness. that’s what it all about it.