By Christine St.Pierre – The hinges squeak on the coffee house door and I shift my gaze toward the entryway with the rest of the Pegasus staff, programmed to greet the sound as another customer shuffles in from the cold. From behind the counter, I greet the newcomer with a smile and ask, sincerely, “How are you?” Too often, the person is shocked by the authenticity in my tone; they’ll raise their brow, tilt their heads, pause to think, and, with a sigh, say something to the effect of, “I’m well, but [insert personal detail here].” Step one in making a new friend: care.

Step two: remember. The next time they walk in through those squeaky front doors, I’ll ask, “How did it go with [restate personal details from last conversation here]?” And so it begins; a relationship that had the dreary potential of being a simple exchange of money and coffee becomes something more. This is how I met most of the folks on the island with whom I’m building strong friendships—young or old, male or female. I realized that this little community wants to let you in, so I found an opening and slipped on through.

The final step: memorize their drink orders. Do this and you’re in forever. No foam. Soft-boiled eggs. Add an inch of water. Tie the tea bag. Whole wheat, a little burned. Split-shot quad-shot extra dry soy cappuccino with a splash of vanilla and sugar in the raw. Extra hot, please!

Working these shifts is the equivalent of hanging out with friends in my kitchen. Regulars get their drinks and sit at the bar. We begin chatting, and more of them file in, greeting each other and catching up. They leave together in small groups, probably off to a job or farm or hike or musical endeavor, and I feel all warm inside knowing I’ll see them the next morning—same place, same time, same drink.

Since this friendship journey began, I’ve been to some really cool places with some really cool people. The Grand Forest, for example, has a beautiful field at the end of a series of trails that is perfect for cloud gazing, singing songs, and sunset yoga. Once, on my way to this field, I ran into a Pegasus friend who was heading into the forest to gather stinging nettle with a group of plant-loving locals. Later, we crossed paths again, and they graciously shared stinging nettle pesto and soup with me. As the clouds parted, we stood in a circle and dined on the foraged nutrition, photosynthesizing while we discussed our appreciation of the forest.

Of course, there are less happenstance ways to form bonds and experience the island, like attending the open mic (Tuesday) or open jam (Thursday) nights at Pegasus. If, like me, you’re not a trained musician, bring your poetry on Tuesdays and slam it out! Or, if, like me, you love to sing, bring your voice on Thursdays; Larry, a regular jammer and real sweetheart, has an extensive catalogue of folk, blues, and bluegrass songs that are easy to learn, and he would love to add to the queue if you’ve got something in mind. The Bainbridge Brewery also offers live music on Wednesday evenings, which makes for a wonderful transition from climbing at the Island Rock Gym just across the Coppertops parking lot.

Not long ago, I began my life on the island attending events like these by myself, enjoying the culture while watching the community interact from a distance. Now, I’m in it, and all it took was a little coffee.

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