The Journal of James Oaklund

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I met with Amy at Du Monde today. It was honestly really heartening. We hadn’t spoken in about a year, but she seemed completely different. Back then, you could tell she was exhausted. And I don’t mean, like, physically tired. You could see it in her eyes that it went deeper than that. Far deeper. Like her soul just wanted to sleep, or something. I’m not a poet, heh.

Amy was so alive today, so full of energy, it was honestly contagious. When she laughed, I almost shed an honest-to-god tear. I hadn’t heard her laugh in years, even back when we talked all the time.

“How’s work been treating you, Amy? Still stuck at the register?”

“It’s been treating me pretty well, actually! My boss came to me the other day and explained that he wanted me to take up a managerial position, so I’ve been promoted. It feels good, you know? I’ve been working really hard in that place for a long time, and it feels like it’s finally paying off. I think it’s honestly all because of Ben. When I started talking to him, he gave me all this advice about looking at my situation in a more positive light, and visualizing my success and stuff. It’s been really eye-opening. And I never would have thought to call him if you hadn’t brought him up the other night! So, really, thank you, James. You set this in motion, and I’m forever grateful.”

I found myself blushing a little at her enthusiasm, but I was just happy to see her happy. The barista at the cafe counter called her name with her order and she quickly excused herself to grab her drink and pastry. I waited patiently, taking a sip of my own drink while I did so.

I’ve been coming to the Cafe Du Monde for the past five years, and I’ve always gotten the same thing; americano, no milk, one scoop of sugar. Sometimes I get a croissant if I’m in the mood. I order so consistently, the baristas know what I’m looking for before I even say anything, just nodding to me as I step in the door and preparing my drink. I make sure to tip them when I pay, just before I leave.

Amy practically pranced back over to the table with the little spring in her step she wore proudly today, holding a small tray in her hands.

It may have been a year since I last saw her, but I could remember what she ordered every time she came here perfectly; she was just like me, in that she found one order she liked and stuck to it each time. She wasn’t quite as frequent as I, so she didn’t exactly have the same casual relationship with the baristas that I did, but I was sure she was pretty close at this point. I did find myself taken aback slightly, however; her order was different than I remembered. Typically, she’d order a strawberry-banana-peanut-butter smoothie and a raspberry danish, but today she was carrying a caramel latte and a chocolate-stuffed croissant.

Of course, people can change their tastes and preferences over time, so it wasn’t really that big of a deal, I suppose I was just surprised she actually switched up her go-to order from the past three or so years I’d been in regular contact with her. I raised my eyebrow a little bit, and jokingly asked about it.

“Too grown-up now for smoothies, huh?”

She just sort of gave me an odd, confused look and tilted her head slightly.

“What do you mean, James?”

I leaned forward a little bit in my seat, my eyebrows furrowing just a little with confusion.

“You don’t remember, or something? Every time we used to come here, you’d get a strawberry-banana-peanut-butter smoothie and a cheese danish. I mean, I’m not upset at all, just curious. I didn’t realize you’d become a coffee person.”

Her eyes seemed to linger on mine for a moment before she grinned and replied.

“Okay, stalker. I got a caramel latte because I really like caramel and the coffee helps me stay up for longer. Since I got promoted to the store manager, I took on a lot of extra duties. One of those new duties is sorting through mounds and mounds of paperwork and sorting out digital records. I drink a couple coffees a day now, so I can stay up long enough to get them all done. I do most of it from home, since the original store manager’s office is undergoing renovations right now and I can’t really work in that space. As for the cheese danish, I’m going on a bit of a diet, and the chocolate-stuffed croissant is just slightly lower in calories.”

Amy laughed and gave me a sarcastic smile.

“Happy, James?”

I laughed in turn, fighting off the urge to tear up at hearing her laughter again, and shrugged my shoulders.

“I guess. I just worry those danishes might get lonely without their old friend checking in on them from time to time. I had to ask for their sake, you know.”

We both continued ribbing each other and laughing for a good, long while before we eventually had to leave for our job obligations. Amy did something today that surprised me even more than the laughing, though; she hugged me. She hadn’t hugged me in years, maybe even a decade, and yet, here she was. I didn’t know what to say about it, so I just hugged back and wished her luck as she left.

I’ve gotta tall doc about this. Phone’s ringing, so I’ll go take that. I’ll write another entry in a couple days, when I talk to doc.

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