Trying new things

I'm not a person who often tries new things. I always eat at the same couple of restaurants, I return to the same places for vacation that I've been before, I always try to park in the same lot, and I never have to place an order for my coffee, since the baristas know I always order the exact same thing.

When a new shop opens in Ashland it takes me a long time to be willing to venture in. In fact, except for the extenuating circumstances of having one of my regular eateries, Geppetto's, close and being friends with extremely pushy people, I would probably settle fairly happily into my same little rut, undisturbed by new foods, menus, people and places.

Over the course of the past couple of weeks, I have actually set foot into a couple new Ashland businesses. The first one that I tried was Noble Coffee. Avoiding new places isn't just out of laziness, but a gut-wrenching anxiety as well.

I'm sure most people don't find ordering a coffee nerve-wracking, but I stood outside on the sidewalk worrying that I would go in, be unable to find the menu, hold up a line of people desperate for their artisan coffee, and be forced to say ridiculous words like "Venti" and "Trenta" in a public place.

My sleepier, and grumpier, friends eventually dragged me inside. When I reached the front of the line, I managed to blurt out that I just wanted a cup of coffee, medium roast. That's not my usual coffee order, but it was very good. After getting through my initial visit alive, I think I'll be able to add Noble Coffee to my limited list of businesses which I frequent. Especially if I can ever work up the courage to tell them I'd like a medium mocha with half the chocolate and an extra shot of espresso.

Another new Ashland business which I visited was Love Revolution downtown. I went in with a couple of friends who are more adventurous than me. I'm a fairly awkward person, and I felt about a million times more awkward in the store.

I did look at all the products and art, and ended up being no more shocked than I am when watching late night television. But unlike my visit to Noble Coffee, I left without buying anything.

Finally, to finish out my stretch of trying new things, I had dinner recently at The Playwright in the railroad district.

I'm not usually a fan of things advertised as "pub food" so, of course, I was not brought to The Playwright under my own volition. But after last night's dinner, I would actually be willing to exercise my free will and return.

The restaurant was pleasant and small, and had comfortable places to sit. There were several different sporting events being televised, but not loud and easily ignorable for the nonfans such as myself.

I ate an order of wings and the waiter was smart enough to bring me extra napkins before I had to ask, which is my personal marker of a great restaurant.

The Playwright, despite being small, made me feel like I could blend in and relax. The menu didn't include any foods which I couldn't pronounce, and I was able to sit at a very tall chair, which, as a short person, was a very exciting part of my night.

So far my experiment with branching out and trying new things has mostly been a success. I've found new places to go, places where I can still feel comfortable, get what I need and blend back in with the crowd.

But as I start thinking ahead to my next vacation, I just want to go back to the same old places. Some things will never change.

Zoe Abel has worked through her grief over losing Geppetto's by meeting someplace new. You can contact her at

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