(2019-01-04) Life Changes
Because everybody who's anybody talks about big life decisions with practical strangers in coffee shops.

The mid-morning lull finds Sam settled at one of the tables at Java Junction again. It's not the best atmosphere to get work done, but he's not working all that hard. The distractions of people coming in and out, watching the flow of life in the new city is just as valuable as getting words down on the page. Not that he's writing many words today; mostly sketching in his book between sips of coffee.

It was still frightfully cold outside, thus there was a bit of a kerfuffle at the door as Warren tries to make haste with his entrance. It was a seemingly impossible task with the crutches, but he somehow doesn't turn the people nearest to the door into snowmen, and hobbles his way to the counter after making sure the door was well and truly shut. Coffee obtained, he lets the barista bring it to the table, which was next door to Sam's own. "Are you becoming a regular here?" he chuckles as he situates himself, shrugging off the messenger bag that was hanging on his shoulder.

"I tried a different spot yesterday. I think I like the coffee here a bit more, though. And the other spot was more of a diner, so was a bit more frantic." Sam says, having looked up when Warren came through the door, but waited until he'd come over to say anything. He offers a friendly smile to the other man now that he's close, however. "Writing can be very isolating. You can do it all from home and never go outside. So, I try to make it a point to get out every day." He pauses and adds - "Besides, I don't have a place of my own yet."

"Maude's?" Warren asks of the diner as he settles into his seat, tugging a manila folder out of his bag and setting it on the table. "My little sister likes to go there. A good place for music and milkshakes, less so for quiet and coffee," he chuckles, a quick glance given to the book on Sam's table before he looks back to the man himself. "I can see how it could be that. Isolating, I mean. But I imagine getting out and about provides inspiration? All these people out and about, with all their stories to tell."

"The Corner Cafe, actually. Haven't tried Maude's yet." Sam admits, nodding. "And you're right, it does provide inspiration. Sometimes, I mean. I guess what I'm saying is that I don't wander around town looking for everyone I meet to be my muse. I'm a genuinely social creature and I like people. If that happens to help my writing, that's a bonus." He grins, perhaps the image of the author skulking about the city with a note pad trying to build a story around the people he experiences is quite amusing. He deposits his book on the table. The page is filled with sketches of all variety of things: coffee, people, a deer, snowy landscapes. He's a good artist, but everything on the page is very rough. "I didn't really get to ask the other day - is your injury from work?"

"Ah. Well, try the milkshakes when you get there," to Maude's that is, the suggestion made with a grin. He flips open the folder, though his focus shifts to the book that is deposited on his table instead, his eyes narrowing into a squint. It reminds him to fetch his glasses at least, which are retrieved from a box in his bag and slid onto his face, before he inspects the drawings once more. "These are good. An author and an artist, that's something of a double threat," he chuckles, pointing a finger to hover it over the deer. "I like this one," he remarks, before the question of his injury makes him look down to the cast on his foot, a fleeting frown etching upon his features. "Sort of," he replies with a shrug. "I was riding for Claire's documentary. It was real late, and the arena was muddy. My horse slipped, and I didn't have my foot in the stirrup the right way."

"Thank you." Sam replies to the compliment on his sketches. "I always wanted to write. Did manage to publish a couple books, but they didn't do all that well. So I tried my hand at a graphic novel on a lark and - well, it hit a sweet spot. Or found the right audience, at least. Those are mostly what I've focused on since. The writing is still important, but it's very different than a normal novel."

His expression twists to concern when Warren explains how the injury came about. "I'm very pleased to hear that it wasn't worse than it was. I'm no expert, but I'm sure it doesn't take much to get twisted or land the wrong way. Is your horse OK?"

"I have a lot of respect for artists," Warren replies in a genuine sort of manner to Sam. "Probably mostly 'cause I could never do something like this myself. I can't even draw stick figures," he laughs, giving his head a slow shake. "My sister likes to write. I wish she'd pursue it more. I think she's happier with a pen than she is on a horse, but.." He trails, lifting his shoulder in a shrug. "Kids," he finishes the thought with a mild chuckle.

As for his horse, his expression rapidly slips into something grim. "No," he replies after a moment. "She had to be put down. Broken legs aren't so good for horses. Sometimes they can recover, but Dolly's break was bad."

"Ah, I'm sorry." Sam says, dipping his eyes a moment and giving a brief moment of silence. He seems to grasp how difficult that situation would have been for Warren. He reaches out for his coffee mug and takes a quiet sip before shifting the conversation back away from the accident. "How old is your sister? The thing about writing is that you can start any time. I have peers who didn't publish until they were 40. I was lucky to have success young, but so many amazingly talented writers just never get the exposure. Maybe it's something she'll try more seriously after doing other things."

"It's all right," Warren replies, reaching for his own mug to wrap his hands around it. "Some good'll come of it. The whole thing, the accident and everything that came after. It got me thinking about my own future, yanno?" He leaves it at that, pushing away the folder and the papers inside of it in favor of leaning back into his chair. "Presley's eighteen. I don't really care much about what she ends up doing, so long as she starts doing something that she wants rather than what she thinks she needs to be doing for one reason or another," he replies, brows twitching into a furrow. "What made you pursue it? The writing and all that. Instead of.. I dunno. Something safe?"

"We all need a nudge from time to time to consider where we're at and where we should be going. In your case, I feel the nudge could have been a bit kinder across the board. As you say, I hope some good comes out of it. The world is strange like that sometimes." Sam says, tracing his thumb absently around the rim of his coffee cup while he listens carefully to Warren talk about his sister. He nods in agreement. "Seldom does trying to live up to someone else's expectations make for happy people. But, she's young. I'm sure she's still sorting out a lot of things."

Sam's own brow furrows when asked about his career path, taking a moment to put his thoughts together. "I had a safety net." He says at last, giving a small half-grin toward Warren. "Not much of a story, right? My father died. Unexpected. My family wasn't rich, but between insurance and his assets I ended up with a lot of money by my standards. Enough that I could give writing a try without the fear of ending up on the street. If he'd lived? I don't know where I'd be. I was working on a law degree when I dropped out to write."

Warren tips his head into a slow nod for Sam's words about kinder nudges and his sister, his expression thoughtful as the conversation shifts. "I'm sorry about your father," he says sincerely, taking a longer sip of his coffee as he considers. "I suppose that's how it goes though, right? You're on one path, and something sudden happens, and it opens up another avenue. Maybe one you didn't see before," he leans forward, setting his cup back down with a sigh. "My family owns the stadium out on the 205. That was always the plan for me, to take it over so my dad could have something of a retirement. It's certainly the safe thing to do," the words are padded with a light, rumbling chuckle. "The accident got me thinking about the things I want to do though. So that's where my head is at. I wanna open a ranch for horses that were injured, a not-for-profit."

"Sounds like your sister isn't the only one getting caught in the web of doing what other people expect." Sam replies after nodding along with Warren's explanation of his true hopes. "And I'm sure you don't need me to tell you that you're not going to be happy just doing the safe thing. But, I guess, even when we know what it is we want to do it's not so easy to shrug off expectations." He presses his lips together, shaking his head. No silver bullet to get out of those kind of situations. "So what's the plan?" He asks after a moment, certain Warren has been putting plenty of thought into his options.

"I was pretty content about going through the motions until all this happened," Warren remarks with a faint smirk, a glance narrowed down to his cast to indicate what he meant. "But I know I gotta keep the stadium going one way or another. There's too many people up there, where that's their lives. Still, that doesn't mean it has to be it entirely, yanno?" He waves a hand to the folder at his table, opening it to reveal a bunch of papers that look like they were printed from a google search. He wrinkles his nose down at it. "So this is what I'm looking into. How to start a not-for-profit. I've got enough money to get some land of my own, but running a rehabilitation place for horses is expensive. You got the upkeep, gotta have a vet or two on retainer.." he breathes out a sigh. "And if I get into this, it means setting the rodeo aside, so I can focus. It's a big change."

"Seems like the sort of thing that would be great for the community, though. I'm new to the area, but it's obvious that the rodeo is important. And if the rodeo is important than horses are too." Sam shifts his eyes down onto the papers in the folder. It doesn't mean much to him without actually reading it, but he nods regardless. "I'm sure I'm not adding much new to your thought process here, but I'm guessing you'll look to the community to see if you can get support for the venture? It feels like the sort of idea that brings about a lot of goodwill to businesses who are willing to put some dollars behind it." He looks back up from the papers, grinning toward Warren. "I think you should do it. Of course, I say that as someone who doesn't have to put in all the hours to make it a reality. What does Claire think?"

Warren bobs his head in a slow nod, squinting back down to the paperwork with a quiet chuckle. "I guess that'd be the plan. Getting community support. But to be real honest with you, Mister Ryce, I don't know the first thing about going out and asking people for money," he admits. "It was hard enough finding a rodeo sponsor, and most of them came to me. But I don't think people are gonna start knocking down my door, putting money in my face and asking me to take care of the poor horses." He flips the folder closed again and brings his coffee back up for a sip. The mention of Claire makes his brows furrow again. "She's the one that got all this research together for me. Her mom does this sort of thing back east, finding money for non-profits. But I dunno," he lifts a shoulder. "We really haven't talked about it much."

"Just Sam. Please." Sam says, looking a little pained at the more formal use of his name. "I feel old enough as it is most days."

He leans back in his seat again, briefly biting down on his lower lip while he thinks about the rest of what Warren said. "I'm afraid I don't know much about begging for money either. I guess with anything it's how you spin it. How do you make it seem like you're doing them a favor by allowing them to sponsor this exciting opportunity. And I'm not talking about lying, just proper framing." Sam shrugs. "Also, you don't need to build it tomorrow. You have time to feel out the community and see if it's viable. Even if it never happens I bet you'll learn a lot of value." He reaches for his coffee mug, adding - "And if I can do anything, let me know. I'm not sure my skill set really jives, but still…"

"I hear you about feeling old," Warren utters a low chuckle as he shifts the paperwork back into his bag. "So just Sam it is. Sorry, I'm pretty sure being polite and formal was beat into me as a kid," he replies with a broader grin, one that manages to stay bright as they talk through his new adventure. "I appreciate it, your offer of assistance. I just gotta get past these first few steps, and maybe make an actual decision," he laughs, finishing off his coffee before he rises to his foot and makes a grab for his crutches. "I'm sorry to pour my whole life story on you, Sam. Sorrier still to do it and then run off. But I gotta do some errands for my dad before the day gets too far away from me."

"It's nice to chat, Warren. New place, I don't really know all that many people yet. And hopefully I'll catch up to you again before too long." Sam replies, looking for a minute like he's going to get up to try to help with the crutches, but perhaps decides he might do more harm than good getting in Warren's way. He seems to have it figured out. "Try to keep warm out there!"

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