Now that I’m living back in the Northwest in the land of green and black (Starbucks) instead of pink and orange (you can’t swing a dead cat in Long Island without hitting a Dunkin’ Donuts) I am loving the call of the Siren more than ever.

I grew up with this company. It has been a part of my working life for 25 years. I can’t even remember life without it.

It was 1989. I jumped in my 1973 VW Super Beetle (named Howard) and noticed my tank was hovering on the big “E.” Quick look at my watch revealed I only had time for one stop – was it going to be gas or coffee? Do you ever look at your fuel gauge at a different angle to see what you want to see? This was one of those days.

So I’m off to my Starbucks. When I pull up, it’s raining (of course) and I can see the back of a suited body pressed against the glass front door. It’s that crowded in there. Another glance at my watch…..I might be late, but I gotta have my fix.

As soon as I walk through the door, the aroma hits me. Coffee is the great neutralizer of all manner of funk. Think of why the perfume counter has you take a snort of coffee beans in-between smelling fragrances. It purifies your soul.

The lighting in Starbucks is kind. Soft, indirect lighting. The music is always perfect. As I stand in line, I am tempted by the pastry offerings. Lined up like little sugar soldiers begging to be adopted. I vow to take the stairs. As I approach the counter, ready to rhythmically rattle of my drink specifics, I notice the new Starbucks bear has arrived. Oh, hello! And the music I’ve been enjoying – the ultimate coffee shop mix tape – right there for only $9.95!

I pay, tip (of course) and step aside to the expecting coffee corral. One by one our names are called to receive the gift of goodness that is Starbucks. With bear, scone, music and coffee in hand, I fumble for my keys, slip in the driver’s seat, turn the engine over. I may run out of gas, but that’s okay – I’ve just created my own little third place in my car while I wait for AAA to rescue me.

Today, there’s a wonderful little Starbucks next door to my credit union. I have to make a deposit, I have plenty of gas in my 2008 VUE (named Sunkist) and plenty of time to write my book (supposed to be on the east coast working with a credit union but the snow cancelled me). I don’t collect the little bears anymore, I have a huge collection of Starbucks City Mugs from my travels. And I’m looking forward to the free WiFi and the complimentary “pick of the week” iTunes download.

See – you can go home again.

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