I sat in a coffee shop editing a manuscript on a weekday morning. To my right sitting on a couch and drinking coffee was a tall, elderly man dressed in black jeans, black Western wear shirt, black cowboy boots, bolo tie and black cowboy hat. It certainly wasn’t a typical look for a Portland coffee shop but somehow it worked.
My mind drifted from the manuscript and I stared out the window. Parked across the street was a dented green VW station wagon from the 90s held together with yellow duct tape. A large pine cone protruded from the front grille.
The driver, a young man with long wavy brown hair reached his hand outside to open the door from there. He exited and was joined on the sidewalk by the wagon’s passenger, a young woman with long wavy brown hair. They were both dressed in black from head to toe. They looked like members of a rock band.
They smoked cigarettes then crossed the street and entered the coffee shop. She sat near the cowboy and played on her phone. He went to the counter and ordered something with six shots in it. He struck up a conversation with the barista and she peppered him with interesting questions. I eavesdropped.
I learned: his name was Wolf, his companion’s name, Jessie. They were in a band! They were the band! He was from Jersey and she was from Maine. They met in Long Island. He asked if she wanted to join him on trip to San Diego. He played guitar and sang. She sang. They formed the band and busked across the country during the summer. They made it to Oregon and gigged farmer’s markets. They were living out of the wagon and running down a dream. They didn’t have a home but they weren’t homeless in my mind. They also weren’t checked out like so many Americans are.
He told the barista the name of the band and where to find it on various social media platforms, but I didn’t catch it.
Wolf took his drink and Jesse’s over to the couch. He struck up a conversation with the cowboy about the cowboy’s attire. Wolf dug it. Wolf and Jessie sipped their coffee drinks and then prepared to leave. Jesse grabbed a few dog treats from a bowl. They said their goodbyes to the cowboy and left the coffee shop.
Back at the wagon, Jessie opened the driver side back door and fed the treats to a brown husky. He was probably in the band, too. Huskies are like that.
Wolf and Jesse smoked cigarettes and drank their drinks on the sidewalk.
It was time to go. I left the coffee shop and took a last look at Wolf and Jessie. It made me wish I had done something similar at their age, with a partner and a dog. Not the rock band thing, but maybe a writing thing. I did versions of it in my 20s and 30s, once with a dog on the Alaskan Highway, but never with a partner, a collaborator.
Maybe it’s not too late. I do have an album of country songs ready to record. I just need a singer.