Playground PHX

My mother was dying of cancer. My brother and I were moving back to Arizona — him from Florida, me from New York City. We were circling the wagons. We were coming closer to home, and we were losing her.

We buried my mom on a Tuesday. I found myself in Phoenix on Friday. It was 108 degrees and I was driving around looking for a place to live. I had no business trying to make decisions like this. I kept saying to myself, "What are you doing?" But I had to make sure my young daughter had a smooth transition. I had a recommendation for a good school, but little else.

I felt so overwhelmed that I pulled the car into a parking lot to have a good cry, thinking, "There is so much I don't know right now."

Everything felt surreal: the heat, the desert, my loss. I needed an iced coffee. In Brooklyn, a good coffee house had been my touchstone for the neighborhood I'd lived in. I wasn't sure where I would find such a mix of thinking, working, and hanging out here in Phoenix.

By chance, I found that iced coffee — and I found my place. It was a turning point. Here, I could get great coffee and the paper. There was thinking going on here, and conversation and creativity.

It was here that I thought there are just a couple of things I'm sure of, and I'm going to stick close to them. I've found a good school and a coffee shop that feels like home. Maybe that's it. Maybe this is all I need.

I knew I was going to be okay. The next day I rented an apartment that sits directly behind Lux.

LUX: 4404 N. Central Ave., 602-696-9976, Luxcoffee.com

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