Wednesday, April 17, 2013

white hart, my heart

Sometimes you make a connection.

It supersedes all others, it's instant, it's magical, it's unlike anything you've ever experienced.
And sometimes it's completely inexplicable; and sometimes, it's a coffee shop.

Maybe it's just me, (in all likelihood it is just me), but I get really attached to things.
I love people, too, don't get me wrong - I love people and love my family and friends.
Yet I seem to have the uncanny ability to attach supreme significance to things. This may be one of my biggest flaws, one of those things I've been working through for a long time.
I was/am a pack rat for my entire life, and have been trying my best to rid myself of that inner obligation to hold onto things for the sake of the memories they hold. After all, memories are in the brain, not in the old shriveled up flower that's been sitting on a dresser for 10 years.

That being said, I seem to be moving on to bigger and better things. Well, maybe just bigger. 
Meaning a big ol' coffee shop downtown that I fell in love with, invested myself in, and was destroyed by when it went bankrupt and closed down on me.

It was called White Hart. 

The very first coffee date I had in Lynchburg was there.
(All the pictures are missing from that post link, since it was one of my first posts and was transferred from my old blog. But it's crazy reading through it, because it's also about hanging out with Allison for the first time! I pretty much already knew we'd be great friends...)

I met my law wife mentor, Denise, at White Hart and she told me her favorite things about Lynchburg and gave me some great advice on how to live life and enjoy marriage through law school.
That was also the first time I had the most amazing grilled cheese in the world. 
White Hart, you delicious jerk.
But anyway. More on that later.

My first book club meeting was there, during my whole Frocktober challenge. (And so were all the subsequent monthly meetings, until now).
I've become used to walking in, finding the table full of book-loving people, ordering a plate of breakfast (called The Usual, which I love) and sitting down to talk about books.
But I still remember the first time I went, looking around.

I remember being so excited, taking pictures and being nervous to meet new people and be a part of a book club which had always been on my wishlist.
I got there early so I could try and find a table and not have to wander in awkwardly.
I loved looking through all the items from local artisans, and being completely enamored (not for the first time) by the window seats.
Good Lord, the window seats.

They turned these little elevated display windows into cozy corners of bliss.
There was one on either side of the entrance doors, and it was my life goal to snatch one up on a Saturday and spend all day long holed up in there with a book.
Spoiler alert: I did make this life goal come true. Check it off the list. :)

I also eventually fell head over heels for the Lavender Latte.
I even wrote a little poem in its honor.

I had noticed that they had both Rose and Lavender syrup flavors (Rose was pretty good but a little too much, the Lavender is much better), which I found both fascinating and delicious sounding. It took me a while to grab enough nerves to throw down the money and try one, and as soon as I did I wish I had been drinking them all along.

It became something I bragged about, and somehow felt personally proud of.
I told everyone I could that they had to try it, because it was an angel's kiss right on your mouth.

One of the best things about White Hart was that they used local produce, meat, and dairy.
They used Homestead Creamery milk and cream, from a farm in Virginia that sells their products to different shops and grocery stores.
Dusty and I have thoroughly enjoyed their egg nog, orange milk (yeah, I know, but it's amazing), and strawberry milk many a time.
The bottom line is that their lattes and milky drinks were absolutely divine, because they used this incredibly fresh, creamy and delicious local dairy.
(And also, the aforementioned grilled cheese sandwich was made using local goat cheese. Ohmy.)

Because of all the reasons above and so much more, White Hart became my favorite part of downtown.
We've spent a lot of time downtown, because of the farmer's market, some of our favorite restaurants like Waterstone Pizza, and other local treasures. We spent our second anniversary downtown, which included a trip to both Waterstone and White Hart.

Eventually I was even able to sit in one of the coveted window seats.
Before I knew it, my dream was a reality.

I went to the farmer's market with Allison that morning, and informed her of my plan. She would leave me there once we were done at the market, and I would wait around all day if I had to - I was going to get one of those window seats!

I awkwardly sat at the little bench right at the front (it was a super busy day, and there weren't any spare seats anywhere) and didn't take my eyes off of the finicky couple in the left window.
One would get up, but it was just a false alarm bathroom run.
The other would get up, but it would be for a coffee refill.

Finally, my moment had come. The woman reached for her purse, and I practically hopped kangaroo-style over to them and gasped out, "Are you leaving!?"
Then the man uttered the magical words, "It's all yours!"

I threw my purse and book down (as well as my little bag of farmer's market groceries) and ran to the counter, burst out "The Usual!" and ran back to my spot. My spot.

You know when someone says, "Oh, this is so you!"
Usually it refers to an article of clothing, or maybe a song or a movie or something like that.
They identify some characteristic of something that matches you in some special way, and it's always fun to find those little life pleasures. Yes, that is so me!

I find that it's rare to discover moments where you're focused enough, when you're actually not preoccupied with the little distractions of everyday life, and you realize: this is so me.
When some thing or some place is powerfully speaking to your soul.
For some, it may be finally reaching the pinnacle of a mountain after a strenuous hike, or running through the finish line - it's in victories, great and small. It's in that large glass of iced tea on the back porch surrounded by your children, or in welcoming in the new year around a bonfire with all your friends and family.
It's in a spur-of-the-moment road trip with all your favorite songs blasting on the radio.
It's in having breakfast in bed and cuddling your pets, or walking hand in hand with your love while the sun is setting.

That's why I loved White Hart. Sure, it wasn't perfect - it was full of some strange people, hippy and homeless alike, the furniture was tattered, the floorboards creaked. And gosh, I loved every bit of that.
I tend to romanticize a lot of things, but spending all day by myself with an awesome book and delicious food and lavender lattes was like finding a piece of myself I didn't know was missing. Something I had always wanted to do. It was a time when I felt truly myself. Doing things I love to do, spending some good old fashioned introvert time with the smell of coffee and the sound of clinking and chatter.

The long weekend, when Dusty was gone.

My wonderful husband was a really good sport, the week White Hart was closing.
I think I went 3-4 times, and he would often join me.
I spent hours and hours and hours there. Soaking up all the last bit of it.

A snowy, dreary day downtown

 Coming back to the heavenly grilled cheese:

It was made up of three delicious cheeses, including cheddar and the melty, rich perfection that can only be found in goat cheese.
It was too good to be true. And it really was, because now it's gone and I want to cry.

That first day that Dusty joined me, we shared a grilled cheese and fries, some Lavender Lattes and even a little breakfast sandwich that was also delightful.

 Taking a tour around the coffee shop, there was the entrance with the window seats:

The front:

 The main seating area/bookstore:

There was also a large room in the back, where there was more seating, where they roasted all of their own coffee beans. Yum.
We went back there once for one of our monthly law wives events (called "Ladies Night Out"), which was another great night. I hadn't even known that back room existed!

On the last day White Hart was open, March 30th, 2013, I got up early and Dusty drove me over just after 8 on a Saturday (like I said, a great sport) to steal a window seat for the very last time.

Surprisingly, I held it together.
When he came to join me early that afternoon, he didn't find me in a puddle of tears.
I was in a state of calm, resigned to the inevitable. Yet maybe with a little more hope, that it wouldn't be the last time my soul was powerfully spoken to by a wonderful place.

I threw on my unicorn sweater, and headed off into the world to make some wishes and say some goodbyes.

Dusty and I each had one last Lavender Latte (my second that day) and bid farewell to White Hart.
It's the end of a really beautiful chapter in the story of our lives here in Lynchburg, and especially a chapter of me finding a very special somewhere.
But I think my soul can be powerfully spoken to through memories, too, and for that, I'm very grateful.

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