4 months ago
I ordered a 12 ounce cold brew with room and stood in a pre caffeine daze, scanning the assortment of remote workers and early morning exercisers in a small coffee shop in Bend. The undercernable hum of music playing on the soundsystem transitioned to quiet and then a long forgotten Fleet Foxes song came on. To my ears, the song's campy, unbridled optimism felt as dated as a yellowing fax machine. Did it feel the same to the rest of the people working away on their laptops, or am I uniquely calloused and cynical, the product of aging from 23 to 35? Continuing my gaze around the shop, I searched for even the subtlest hint that someone else felt a tinge of awareness or uncomfort. A lone woman chatted on her ear pods, seemingly speaking to herself. No one broke their cycle of staring at their devices and occasionally taking a drag of their beverage. After a few minutes, "Cold Brew for Foster," brought me back from my daze and I grabbed my coffee, poured a splash of half and half into it and headed back to my truck. For the few last months, on long drives and spare moments throughout my day, I've wrestled with the question of what happened to this optimism felt by many of my generation, and best captured by the energy around the emergence of social media as a way to democratize the internet, the Occupy Movement and a unassuming geezer from Vermont named Bernie Sanders. What killed it, when exactly did it die? Somewhere along the way, that demand and hope for change shifted from questioning the amount of wealth and power in the hands of a few or imagining a different vision for the natural world around us, to swapping one sweatshop made bathroom sign to one without genders, and calling it progress. "At least the coffee's good," I murmured to myself as I took a swig and I pulled out of the parking lot. Summer 2023 thoughts and photos Part 1.