I am seated on a wood chair in the corner of this lovely local cafe, with an almond milk latte in front of me. The almond milk is a three-quarter up-charge that I gladly pay. Similarly to how some may view a glass of red wine as a healthy, life-giving delight, I regard my cup of coffee as the same. But, I will not drink bad coffee. Time travels too fast for that.
The abstract paintings hung on the wall to my left - crafted from local artists - are for sale. Apparently, this Cafe is a lunchtime destination. Herds of humans stand in line; all of them willing to pay for quality over quality.
The lad running this place is a good fellow. He's taking orders at the front. As each customer steps up to order, his tired eyes peek up from his weathered, rounded-billed baseball cap. His thin mouth always finds a way to conversate with each patron.
Today, he doesn't look his best - but he never looks his best. Unwashed hair with vintage t-shirts that looks like it has the odor of a thrift shop is his daily look. And perhaps this doesn't matter too much. His best doesn't require that he invest a fortune into his dandyism.
The early October sun glows a warm light through the windows that wrap around this place. Outside, the deep blue sky is ornamented with patches of clouds that look like floating pieces of cotton candy.
A version of "Let It Be," is seeping from the speakers when my lunch arrives. I've noticed that anything served on a wooden board heightens any eating experience.
In the sea of big box dining options combined with the enormous output of energy we nervous Americans display each day - both mentally and physically - this place is an invigorating reprieve.
The seating arrangement makes you feel like you're eating at home. Mismatched tabletops with a hodgepodge of chairs and benches give this local cafe a homey - but not intrusive - atmosphere.
But it's close enough to hear your dine mates talk.
To my right is a pair who are lunching with no timeline. They've arranged this meeting to waste time on purpose. No agenda. No angle.
Just time spent together.
Their conversation flows like the fall wind - sometimes strong, sometimes gentle. This is not a Facebook friendship; it's a real one. The connection is undeniable, and it seems like their link is some lifeline, a formidable ingredient to a solid inner life.
I'm fortunate enough to have a friend like this. We've known each other for years. I've seen him in low places when his wings have been clipped. He's seen me as vulnerable as half-dead roadkill.
And since we have walked alongside each other through the firestorms, we've built a foundation. We've forged a pact. One that loudly whispers, "I got your back brother."
I believe it only takes one good, honest friend to journey this life. Having more is certainly permitted, but one is good enough.
This reminds me of a timber frame structure. It's said that these houses are not measured in decades, but in millennia. Timber frame houses are built to last; a far cry from the modern stick frames we see so often today.
Timber frames depend on large posts and beams woven together by wood joinery, not metal fasteners. The strength of the 8x8 is no match compared to a 2x4. This method also gets better over time. As the timber frame dries, the joinery tightens itself as the wood shrinks. With time, the frame gets stronger.
There is a reason why some of the oldest timber frames are still standing in Japan today. Due to the harsh weather and frequent earthquakes, timber frames were relied upon to withstand the frequent elemental attacks.
Building a timber frame home is about 20% more expensive than building a conventional stick-frame home. There's a price to quality. And it's always better to pay for it when you don't' need it.
Having one good, honest friend is the soul equivalent to building a timber frame home. Having someone on your side when the storms roll in is hard to put a price on. Walking through hell with somebody who can hold space for you makes the joinery between you two tighter. With time, the friendship gets stronger.
Building a friendship of this ilk is expensive. At times it will feel like mile 18 of a marathon. But like the timber frame home, there's a price to quality. And it's always better to pay for it when you don't need it.
After my fine load of fuel is consumed, I push my wooden boards away from me. Then, I polish off my latte. My aimless gaze lets me know that the cotton candy clouds are still hanging from the sky.
And the friends to my right are still talking. It seems that the chat is lighter now - they're laughing. Watching them was a splendid comfort.
This essay was originally published by The Good Men Project.