Saving Home

May 10, 2010
It feels like home to me. No, there isn’t a living room or a bedroom. No, there isn’t a dresser where I can put all of my clothes away. No, there isn’t even a bed for me to cuddle up in at night. But, do those things really make up a true home? One of the definitions of the word home is “a place of residence of refuge.” Well, for most people, they house that they live in is what they would consider their home, but for me, it isn’t. And it’s not like I don’t have a place to call home, I do. In fact, it is very nice. It has four stories and a chandelier on every floor. We have a grand piano, and the largest flat screen television that I have ever seen. But this house isn’t what I would call my “home”. So you may ask, “What would you consider as your home?” Well, I would probably say something back to you like “a beautiful, wonderful place where I can experience the greatest feelings and emotions that I have ever experienced before.” Okay, so I will stop beating around the bush now. This place, this comforting, relaxing, glorious place is called Mendel’s Coffee Shop.

I ride my bike to school every day. In fact, if someone was going to ask me what my favorite thing to do is, I would probably say that my favorite thing to do is ride my bike. Anyways, on this particular morning, I woke up, took a shower, and threw on some jeans and a plain white shirt. I blew dry my wavy chocolate brown hair, and put on my favorite pair of white and blue Nikes. I wasn’t much for style, but I also wanted to look “acceptable.” I ran down the 3 flights of stairs and into the kitchen, grabbed my grey-blue Jansport backpack and my sack lunch (consisting of a peanut butter sandwich) and headed out the two large double-doors. I used all of my strength (which in the morning wasn’t very much) and lifted up the garage door. And there, as if it were actually glowing, was my bicycle. It was dark blue, with a black leather seat and black handle bars that were fitted almost perfectly to my hands. I hopped on, and peddled backwards out of my driveway. The ride to my school was only about 7 minutes long, if I take the “easy” way. Or, you can go the “scenic” way, as I call it. With this route, it takes almost 11 minutes to get to school, but some days, it’s worth it. Today was one of those days. I had almost 15 minutes before the first bell rang, which would even give me enough time to go to my all time favorite coffee shop- Mendel’s, and pick up a hot chocolate with extra whipped cream. Mendel’s was like Heaven on Earth for me. Every time that I went in there, I felt peace within my heart. Occasionally I would stop by there before school if I just couldn’t resist the sweet aroma that surrounds the shop, but most of the time I would go there on my way back to school, or to softball. I just couldn’t resist it this morning. I thought of that amazing beverage that I craved almost around the clock. My salivary glands began to water. I could almost taste the “chocolaty goodness” in my mouth. I opted for the scenic route today (because I had a math exam, so I figured I deserved a little treat). Old oak trees towered above me, casting strange, mysterious shadows. It was still partly dark, which made it even better. The wheels on my bike spun swiftly, as I put it into fourth gear. It felt like the world was at peace, for at least a minute. There was a slight chill in the air that pierced the sides of my cheeks, which refreshed and invigorated me. Finally, I had arrived at Mendel’s. Walking in, I had to pinch my lips together so hard that they started to bleed, to keep from drooling all over the place. I just walked up to the front, and Leila (one of the women behind the counter) punched in my order without me having to say anything. Needless to say, I was a regular here. That was one of the things I loved about Mendel’s, everybody knew you around there.

“Hey Whitney!” she said cheerfully, as she yelled at the “drink-makers” what my order was.

“Hey” I said back, as a wet liquid rolled down my chin. I wiped my mouth, and looked around as Leila was talking to her next customer.
As I stood there, containing the drool, I spotted a bright yellow flyer hanging on the “community news” bulletin board near the front of the store. Now, are neighborhood was pretty “action-packed”. There was always news about the town’s high school- Brooksdoor High School (where I attend school), church events, and plenty other events that were mentioned in the newspaper daily. Despite all of the things going on in the town, Mendel’s hardly ever puts anything new up there. Well, I pretty much know that bulletin board’s content like the back of my hand, so I was surprised when I glanced at the board, out of habit, and actually saw something new there. My hot chocolate wasn’t ready yet, so I strolled over to the bulletin board, and that is when I saw it. The thing that was about to change my teenage years forever.

“It’s closing!” I yelled at Leila, as I scurried back over to the counter, where my steaming beverage was waiting.

“Why are you yelling?” Leila asked in a hushed tone, trying to calm me down. “What are you screaming about?”

“The flyer!” I shrieked, shoving it in her face.

“What about it?” she questioned, acting confused.

“What do you mean what about it? You forgot to tell me that the STORE WAS CLOSING!” I yelped.

“Stop it!” she whispered “you are disturbing the rest of the customers!”
I was feeling so many emotions at the same time. Anger, because nobody had bothered to inform me about this, and an overwhelming sense of sadness, because my beloved coffee shop was about to close. I had so many questions swarming around in my brain. Why was it closing? What could I do to keep it open? How soon was it going to close? And how was I going to live without it?

“Look,” Leila said in a motherly tone, “come back after school and we can discuss it, okay?”
I nodded, grabbed my hot chocolate, and headed out the door and to the parking lot where my bike awaited me. I chugged down nearly half of the hot chocolate, which despite the saddening situation did cheer me up a little bit, and headed off to school. My dad had helped me make a drink holder to put drinks in, and the coffee cup fit in their flawlessly. I had already mastered the technique used when trying to avoid spilling the hot chocolate as I rode to school. The trick is to keep your hands nice and steady, while your feet pedal as hard as they can. It has worked without fault for basically my whole life, until of course, today. In case my day wasn’t going badly enough, a teaspoon-size amount of the hot chocolate sprang out of the cup like a spring, and landed directly on my neck, forehead, and nose. “Great.” I thought to myself, as I swiftly wiped the hot chocolate off, being careful not to swerve off the road. I was running late, and was going to have to sprint to get to first period if I wanted to keep the “no tardiness” policy that the teachers at Brooksdoor High School enforce strictly. How was I ever going to make it through this day?

The day didn’t get much better from there. I couldn’t get the events of the morning’s activities out of my head, and that pretty much put a damper on the rest of my day.

Finally, the end-of-the-day bell sounded, echoing in my ear. I didn’t even bother to stop at my locker; I ran outside and unlocked the lock that held my bicycle to the bike rack, and sped off to Mendel’s. My heart was racing, just about to pound right out of my chest. I needed answers, and I needed them fast.

Once I arrived, I locked up my bike in the bike rack, and anxiously stormed inside. Leila was sitting at one of the booths waiting for me, reading the local newspaper. She was off duty, so she had on a sweatshirt and some jeans. Without speaking, I scooted into the booth and stared straight at her. I guess she must have heard me shuffling around with my school bag, so she put the newspaper down, looking surprised.

“Hey, how was school?” Leila said, trying desperately to make some small talk.

“It doesn’t matter” I said angrily “but what does matter is that my favorite coffee shop is closing down and nobody told me about it.”

“I’m sorry.” she said apologetically. “You are right. You are one of our best customers, and you deserved to know this. Our staff, especially me, should have told you sooner.” She really did sound sincere.

“Thank you.” I said, partly satisfied. “So,” I muttered as I hobbled around in my seat uncomfortably, “when is it closing exactly?”

“Next Friday.” Leila whispered, afraid to look me straight in the eyes. I couldn’t believe what was happening. Maybe this was just some sort of nightmare or something, and I was about to wake up to find that I had overslept. But even pinching and slapping myself didn’t work. This was no dream. Leila looked concerned at my sudden paleness and lack of words.

“Would you like something to drink?” she asked in a motherly tone.

“Uhh” I stuttered, “yeah, I will go get an iced tea or something.”

“No, no” Leila said, standing up and patting my arm “you aren’t very stable yet.”
She was probably right. I wasn’t stable to walk up there an order myself something to drink. I was confused, and astonished. After Leila returned, I sat and sipped my drink, silently. I stood up to leave, and she escorted me out the door, afraid that my state f shock was going to trigger some source of clumsiness. I put my iced tea into the cup holder, and began to peddle away, not daring to look back.
My two sisters, Peyton and Valerie had always been known for something. For Valerie, it was her amazing sports abilities that had made her almost famous in our high school- and town. For Peyton, it was always her writing and theatrical skills that got her noticed. Peyton was the head of the journalism and drama departments at our high school, and she even wrote for a weekly segment of the newspaper. My sisters were always known as the “Grayson family duo”, or the “Power sisters”. Together, they could have probably taken over the world if they tried. For me, I wasn’t that good at anything really. I mean, I was okay at sports, and I could write average stories. But, there wasn’t anything really special about me. I had pretty much accepted that, until an opportunity dangled in front of me.
Sometimes when I rode my bike, I felt a source of empowerment lurking over me. Today, that feeling had definitely hit me hard. The wind in my face triggered some sort of emotion, and I knew that I had to do something about the shops sudden closing. I had to help the town of Brooksdoor, and I had to preserve this treasure. When I got home, I took my iced tea out of the cup holder and put my bike in the garage. I ran upstairs to Peyton’s old “craft room” that hadn’t been touched in years. I glanced around, and grabbed everything that I thought I would need for this project. I got a boatload of markers, paint, and about 50 poster-boards in different shapes and sizes. Filling my arms with all of this stuff, I leaped up the stairs and into the game room, where I made little piles of all of the supplies. Nobody was home (as usual) so there was no way I could have been questioned by mom, or disturbed by my dad. I sketched out a few designs on a scrap piece of paper, and got to work. I came up with all sorts of creative catch-phrases and logos. I worked like a mad-man trying to get everything done before my parents came home. When I was done, I had made a grand total of 45 posters and 2 large banners. But that wasn’t enough. I scurried downstairs, and went straight to my dad’s office. I typed up an array of different flyers about the saving Mendel’s cause. I printed them all (240 of them) out on different colors of paper. On the flyers, I had organized a money collection sight at my dad’s office, where I was planning on having 2 extra large buckets to be filled with donations. Running back up the stairs with my flyers in hand, I put all of the supplies back, and put all of he posters, flyers, and banners into a great big garbage bag. My work had only just begun.

I flew out the door with my garbage bag, and hopped on my bike. I rode to a local continent store, where I purchased the two big buckets, a sharpie, and 10 rolls of tape. I was on a roll! After I checked out, I hung about 15 flyers and 2 posters inside the store, without the permission of the manager of course, and ran out the door. I rode quickly to my dad’s law firm, where I set up the two big buckets. I pulled a flyer out of my bag, and wrote on the back of it:

Mendel’s Coffee Shop Fund
Donate generously to keep this shop running
Please don’t steal from the buckets!
I stuck the flyer above the buckets, and put a banner above the doors of the law firm. For the next 3 hours, I rode around town posting the flyers, posters, and banners. By the end of this “journey” I was absolutely pooped. I don’t think I had ever been that tired in my whole entire life. Peddling as fast as I could, I could hardly wait to jump into my warm cozy bed, and go to sleep.

“Beep, Beep!” I nearly smashed my alarm clock when it went off that morning. It was sort of a habit to do that, but surprisingly, I wasn’t that tired anymore. I mean, I slept like a baby through the whole night, my eyes darting closed the minute I hit the pillow! I rolled over, and a sense of anxiety washed over me. Being a Saturday, you would think that I would have slept in for hours upon hours like I usually did, but today was different. Today I would find out if my hard work had truly paid off.

Throwing on a pair of gym shorts and a sweatshirt and grabbing a plastic bag to hold my earnings in, I ran out the door, not bothering to even tie my shoes. I jumped on my beloved bike, and my feet began peddling before they had even hit the petals. My muscles still ached from the previous day’s activities, but it didn’t matter. I was on a mission. A mission to save Mendel’s. It did have a pretty nice ring to it.

As I turned the corner leading to my Dad’s firm, butterflies flew around wildly in my stomach. It had only been one day, so I wasn’t expecting there to be like a billion dollars in there or anything, but I was hoping that we had more than just a penny or two. Now the big blue buckets were in sight. I pedaled madly across to the buckets. Throwing my bike on the unforgiving concrete I exhaled a deep breath, trying to prepare myself for the outcome of my hard work. I peered into the first bucket, and the butterflies in my stomach erupted with enthusiasm, like hot lava in a volcano. The bucket was absolutely filled to the top with dollar bills, checks, and tons of coins. I was so ecstatic; I thought I needed to sit down to keep myself stable. I gently peeked into the second bucket and my response was the same. It was filled to the top with oodles and oodles of glorious money. I wasn’t one to obsess over money, but this, this was incredible! Flabbergasted, I quickly stuffed all of the money into the plastic bag, being careful not to lose any of it. Mendel’s was going to need all of the money it could get.

The ride home was more difficult than expected. Trying to totally conceal the bag so that nothing would fly out was difficult, but I made it. When I arrived home, I basically threw mu bike in the garage, and carried the bag to my room. This was the moment of truth, the moment that I would see just how much I had raised. I dumped out all of the money onto the hardwood floors of my bedroom, and began counting. About halfway through my counting, I came upon a check. As I read the amount on it, I think I fainted, and my ghost took over. It was written for 3,000 dollars! 3,000! The number scattered around in my brain leaving my completely and utterly shocked. When I got my control back, I continued to count the money. Finally, I had arrived at a total sum of 5,856 dollars and 72 cents. It was incredible, remarkable, and I couldn’t contain myself from letting out a small yelp of excitement.

I raced to Mendel’s, my bike still recuperating from my last leg of the journey. I turned every corner with ease as I contained all of the money inside of the bag, as if it took no effort at all. I got that sense of empowerment again, which I now thrived on. Maybe, just maybe, this could turn into something more. Maybe this was the thing that I was good at. Maybe people would start thinking of us as the “Grayson family trio”. Maybe this would be what I was known for.

Swinging open the door to Mendel’s, I thought I was about to collapse. My lungs heaved, and my heart raced after all of the exercise I had just put it through. But I was not about to let that get in my way.

“I did it!” I screamed victoriously, as Leila’s eyes darted to me, confused.

“What?” Leila asked, not even bothering to tell me to quiet down.

“I raised the money to save Mendel’s!” I announced, as the customers stared at me, bewildered.

“5,856 dollars and 72 cents. I raised it, so the shop can keep running. I did it!” I shrieked, as tears welled up in my eyes.

As it turns out, my donation really did save the coffee shop. It kept it running, and even they even had enough money to but some new appliances. My story was all over the news, and my house was being bombarded with people thanking me for my kind services. I graciously talked to everyone who came up to me at school and on the street, asking me if I was “that girl on the news.” I had finally become known for something, and I wouldn’t let me family down after all. It felt like the world was at peace.

Sometimes, people would come up and ask me,
“Why did you do it?” to which I would just simply reply
“Because it feels like home to me.”

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