Life has a funny way of working itself out sometimes. Some days, it seems most unfair and then others, it leaves you with a feeling of happiness that just cannot be measured.
For me, life today was the latter.
These past few days have been quite stressful. On top of studying for our exams this week (ha! “studying”… I use that term lightly as I seemed to have forgotten what that exactly entails ever since my arrival in Geneva), I’ve also spent a lot of time looking into and planning for our Spring Break in Spain/Portugal next week.
Don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t be more excited to be traveling with some of my wonderful friends, eating our way through Europe and enjoying all that it has to offer, but it’s definitely difficult to focus on school when your mind is on vacation mode, dreaming of beaches and tapas and adventures. That, and having hundreds of tabs open doesn’t help either.
In an attempt to really try and concentrate on studying and prepare for our upcoming finals, Anna and I decided that it would be a good idea to check out this café that we passed by on our way to the University yesterday morning after French class today. It gave off such good vibes and it would have been the perfect place to enjoy a cappuccino as we reviewed our notes and lectures, except for the fact that we needed to pay an additional fee in order to work in their study space. This was unbeknownst to us, and you could imagine our disappointment when our plans to study here fell through. Living and sustaining ourselves in Geneva is difficult enough, and Anna and I didn’t feel the need to pay extra to use a study space when we could just go back to our residence and study there.
The thought of a cappuccino still eluded us, so Anna suggested we could check out another café close by to our residence since Plan A succeeded with no avail. After hopping off the tram and making our way to Anna’s café, I just happened to have noticed this other café out of the corner of my eye.
I like to call it “the-most-wonderful-discovery-that-was-made-on-accident.”
From the outside, you wouldn’t be able to tell that this was even a café because it boasted such an unassuming storefront. The only reason I noticed it was because through the large open windows, I saw the menu and “cappuccino,” written in large white letters, stood out to me amidst the no-fuss, simplistic and minimal décor.
As Anna and I stood outside the café, deciding if we wanted to enter or not, the warm-hearted owner, Mia, graciously invited us to come in. We agreed, and proceeded to order our drinks- a cappuccino for me, and a latte for Anna. There was a bit of mix-up with Anna’s order, as Mia mistakenly thought Anna ordered “lait” instead of “latte,” but despite that tiny blip of miscommunication, we couldn’t have had a better experience here.
Halfway through our visit, when Mia’s husband came in and they briefly exchanged some words, I realized that she spoke Italian! I was filled with such sheer joy, of which Anna can attest to, when I heard those beautifully melodic tones. Struggling to learn French for the past 6 weeks allowed me to realize how much Italian I actually knew after having studied it for 6 years in high school. I longed for the day when I would get to speak Italian again! Although I was a bit rusty and replied in French at times, Mia definitely appreciated my effort 🙂 I was impressed at how much Italian I recalled, and just speaking with Mia, even if they were simple exchanges, brought me so much happiness!
We ended up staying a bit and Mia eventually shared the story of how she and her husband came to settle in Geneva with us. Long story short, they arrived 7 years ago and opened a bustling restaurant business along with her two brothers; but, after some disagreement over the organizational component, the argument snowballed and they eventually had to close down the business. A few years later, so present day, Mia and her husband decided to open a café of their own and I am so glad they did! To add to the marvel of this experience further, Anna and I were one of their very first customers! The café wasn’t quite finished being renovated yet, but Mia and her husband were so enthused when they were telling us about what the final product would look like and what they would be serving.
This was such an opportune discovery, and it definitely reinforces my belief that everything happens for a reason. Had we stayed at the café near the university, we probably would have never stumbled upon Mia’s café and gotten to meet her. I am so thankful for Mia’s generosity and her hospitality, especially her compassion and enthusiasm for life, people, and food!
Mia encouraged us stay longer, telling us how much she loved our company, but alas Anna and I had to head back and make a dent in our studying. We both left with the biggest smiles on our faces and Anna’s Gnocchi in hand, knowing that we’d be back soon.
Finding the people that help you realize the “good” in everyday and showing you how much happiness can result from simple encounters? Now that’s a most fortuitous discovery.