At my bat mitzvah in 1984, Patty towered over the other pubescent girls, at 5’10” (I think). She wore an Esprit cropped pants and shirt outfit and belted out the lyrics to some Duran Duran song alongside my friend Lydia, who would later be my first post-college roommate in New York.

Then Patty moved to Indiana and we lost touch. Until we reconnected on Facebook a few months ago.

When I posted that my divorce was final in May, she sent me a message, offering her support and the information that she, too, had ended a marriage and eventually found the happiness she wanted and deserved.

Just this week, Patty emailed me on Facebook and asked how I was doing.

The emotions hit me 3 or 4 weeks ago, I wrote back. I don’t miss my ex at all – but it’s the whole death of a dream, the end of the life I thought I had, and the realization that I have to build a new foundation, a new life.

She wrote back early this morning and said she remembers those emotions well. It amazes me that 24 years after I last saw her – and connected on the superficial level that middle-schoolers do – she has become someone I can turn to in a moment of need. Ah the power of social networking. The world is really a much smaller place than I ever could have imagined.

Today’s Detroit Free Press and Detroit News both ran articles about the impending closing of 18 Starbucks coffee shops in the state of Michigan. A few years ago, David Crumm, then the Free Press religion writer and now the director of www.ReadTheSpirit.com, first came to my attention through an article he wrote about Starbucks as the new church.

I don’t remember his wording but he basically analyzed the Starbucks model as one that brings people together from disparate origins and creates the sense of welcome and belonging that one would find in a house of worship.

The reasons for the closings were cited as more competition (Biggby Coffee, Dunkin’ Donuts, and McDonald’s lattes and mochas) and a bad economy in which consumers aren’t shelling out $3 for a cup of joe.

Is there a community element to it, too? Has Starbucks overstayed its welcome? Have we moved on to new ways of connecting?

Or are we brewing our own strong wake-up cups at home now,¬†shooting for self-sufficiency as we stay close to home and don’t waste our precious dollars on the gas it takes to get from one place to the next?¬†

Oh – and speaking of connections, check out the new Detroit Writers group at ning.com – and join!


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