If It Wasn’t For Joshua Cup
I’ve seen a few pictures pop up about Joshua Cup closing 3 years ago. As a resident of downtown Macon who lives one street over, I find myself at odd, random times missing a cup of coffee or espresso, a sugar cookie, or just the good conversation that I’d come to find at Joshua Cup.
Joshua Cup is still a journey even though it is no longer a destination.
I first met the Gehrigs and the Beachys when downtown Macon was starting to be somewhere you could actually hang out after 6pm. I think I worked for Sears at the time and wrote out of a Studio at the Contemporary Arts Exchange at the time. The reputation of me knowing “everybody” (I don’t know everybody) had already begun because I was a frequenter of The Vine when it was on Ingleside. They wanted to start a coffee shop and a non-profit youth center. They wanted the coffee shop to support the center. I knew people who would want to work, who would want to spend money there, the neighborhood, and those guys really brought me into their group.
Bill Tone, Andrew Bender, Rita Beachy, Jon Beachy, Jacob Welch, Alison Milton (now Welch), and others made up my life in those early days of Joshua Cup. There were a group of “kids,” though I was a only few years out of the kids range myself, who came to Joshua Cup for Bible Study, a study unlike any I’ve gone to before or since, headed up by a comic loving giant I met at the Vine, a very opinionated reject from Kingdom Hall, and a very judgmental Baptist from Macon (that last one was me). I loved it because it was not like sitting in church and regurgitating someone else’s beliefs. It was about forcing ourselves to see if God really did existed like the bible said, if he could exist in our lives and speak to us directly. It was about helping us find true love and acceptance for ourselves through the sacrifices God had made. I started a “girl’s group” with Katie Hart, Ashley Dunn, and Cameron Beasley (now Gilliland) and I have never been prouder to see how they’ve grown. Their confidence in themselves, their love for others, their willingness to express their own opinions make me happy to see the people they became. That I still know them, 15 years later, makes my heart happy.
I remember having crushes and getting my heart broken at Joshua Cup. I learned to move on and to make the best of situations at Joshua Cup. I learned that people you’ve only known for a short time, who are only in your life for a moment can have an everlasting impact. I learned to mourn the passing of someone who came to mean a lot to me at Joshua Cup. Whenever I hear or think of the phrase, “Time to lean, time to clean,” I think of Jeff. He was a youth leader at his church, but he was probably the most real person that I’d met. He was honest to a fault, but kind and compassionate in it. Much better than me at that time. He was the first person I lost to cancer, but we all lost such a very good friend. I miss him every day.
I met my best friends at Joshua Cup. When I saw Alison Milton for the first time, all I saw was red hair and the most open, friendly face I’d ever seen. It was the second time that I had a female best friend that seemed to accept me for who I was, judgments and all. We were planning to marry our dream men and once we had our babies, switch them because I’ve always wanted a red-haired child and she wanted a black baby. We laughed about that because it was ridiculous, but we thought we would be best friends forever. She was a very good friend for a short time in my life and I will always be grateful.
I met Anna Ruth when she was a young employee at the Zebulon Road store. Truth be told, we were not each other’s favorites but once we got to know each other, it was best friends. When I met her, I was resigned to my weirdness. It was just a part of me and I just had to get used to being the weird one. After meeting her, seeing how comfortable she was in her own weirdness, and satisfied with what she had learned and excited to do and be more, I was inspired to love my weirdness. She has been like a sister to me and I have an amazing sister, so that’s saying something. We didn’t have to talk about being in each other’s lives forever. We just are. I remember her sitting with me the night before my father’s funeral. She was the only white person in the room and completely engaging. I was numb at best and, except for family, the people in the room had no idea who I was. She helped everyone talk and not be as sad. She even made me laugh. I love her more than words can say.
Joshua Cup has been the epicenter of so much in my life. I am not religious any more. I do not go to church anymore. But I can never say there is no such thing as a higher power because of Joshua Cup. Whatever the higher power is, it resided at Joshua Cup. J Cup was not perfect and it had a few people who were less than spectacular, but it was a peaceful place where you could go and relax, have a great conversation, or just sit and write/study. It place I always was, with all my friends, as we drank more coffee than any of us would care to admit.
I wouldn’t have joined the Magnolia Street family if it had not been for Joshua Cup. The J Cup brought me downtown and kept me downtown. Some of the friends I have today are because of that place. When it closed, it was devastating. Jon and Rita always made me feel like I had a place to call home away from home. Rita put love in every baked good and Jon’s training not only helped me be a better barista but a better person. I learned how to be efficient, and I learned how to be kind. The kind part is what I take with me everywhere because the me before just wanted to be right. I am forever grateful for learning to be kind. I learned about friendships and how to be a better person. I became a better person and that is the person I get to show people today. There’s no way I can say that I wouldn’t have learned this without the J Cup, but it would certainly have taken me longer to get there.
The 3 year anniversary of the closing of the J Cup happening right as I’m about to take on a new adventure is bittersweet. Closing Joshua Cup was a mistake, but even mistakes have their silver lining. As Chadwich Loyd said, Joshua Cup is more than the building and we have it wherever we go. Whether it is my experiences at the J Cup or the memories I’ve made in Macon, I will have them wherever I go.