… are where work is done, pastries and beverages are enjoyed, ideas are exchanged, smells and laughter are shared. I think it is the steady stream of people that come and go that attracts me to these places despite my lack of tolerance for coffee. Well, and also their usually wide selection of other yummies such as hot chocolate, caramel apple spice and sour cherry muffins. In the span of the 3 hours that I have been here, only 2 other people have been here for as long as I have been or longer than me.
I peeked at a particular girl who sat just beyond my computer screen about once every 2 minutes in the span of that 20 minutes she was there with her friend. I was unable to shake the feeling that she was that girl that I had asked to lunch once during my freshman year. We were in the same communications class. Extremely pretty and fresh faced with perfectly manicured eyebrows. Everything about her was always in perfectly neat order and that’s what intrigued me about her. Yet that one lunch was exceedingly awkward. The conversation felt forced and I started to feel foolish. My hopes of finding a good friend in her (because I had none in the US then) were extinguished. It was quite disappointing.
The man to my left is in a blue and grey snowflake sweater. I wonder what he has been working on and why he chose to leave his residence to come here and hang out. More than anything, I think we come out for the community, for the camaraderie that fills the air due to the very fact that life is taking place in front of our eyes, because it can so often wither and diminish in the darkness of our own rooms. It gives us space without isolation.
I spilled my water just now. Thankfully away from myself and my laptop. The two men within 3 feet of me did not react, perhaps afraid to acknowledge the slight embarrassment I felt for being so careless. Doesn’t laughing at your own mistakes make it more bearable and less painful?
Isn’t it strange how so many different individual lives fit so well in one space, for that span of – oh who knows, 15 minutes to maybe even 5 hours. And then everything shifts and rearranges. In fact, every time a customer walks through that door with that panel of glass with the company’s logo etched on it, everything shifts and changes. I imagine in my mind something seismic taking place. A bit of life has been invested in this space. It is permanent. It is valuable. It is big. Yet why do we feel like we have to remain strangers and ignore this fragment of life?
I think we fear that if we opened up ourselves to more life, we would see more horrors and fatigue and despair, and that’s well…not desirable. So we keep moving on. We shut our books and pack up our bags and throw away our coffee cups and simply abandon that bit of life that we just shared with 15 other strangers because, well, we have accomplished the purpose that we came to this space for – to get work done, to meet a friend, to discuss business. All these things done in hopes of simply being better.
Maybe I should smile at that boy in the snowflake sweater.