Between meetings and dinner and teaching today. Not enough time to drive home and back. That would be senseless. Camped out at a “local” coffee shop. Studying. Preparing. Noticing.
We have a sort of silently acknowledged community, my coffee shop friends and me. Sitting nearly atop each other, we instinctively agree to mutual ignorance. They will not get in my way. They will not interrupt me, except with a passing smile when an eye is caught. They do not intrude in my bubble of art history notes. They will not comment, although the eclectic french music bears commentary. It is about as soothing as a swarm of flies. So we sit. My three compadres and I. We sit and we focus on that which concerns our individual selves.
I cannot help it though. They are all three so interesting. I’ve completed my work. I remain with my eyes on my books or on my coffee. I pay attention to the goings on around me. If ever one has been a fly on a wall, well, perhaps this is what it feels like.
The woman sitting right outside my window. I say it is my window. Nobody else is sitting as close as I am. She is studying intently. Probably in her forties, she has piles of notebooks and a biology textbook or two. Memorization is on her mind. She repeatedly reads her notes, looks up at the traffic, and mouths the words she desires to know. Over and over. Not a businesswoman by look. She goes without makeup and hair pulled back in a high braid. She has smile lines. Easy to see when she squints into the sun for hints of her required memory. Her feet are cuddled up on the chair across from her wind keeps changing her pages. Hope she aces her exam.
The businessman sitting directly in front of me is in some sort of manufacturing and testing field. He was on the phone for a long time discussing labs across the nation. Which ones he would consider working with. He will not go to Florida. He just cannot get used to the heat and humidity. He speaks in terms of contracts and the latest phd he has recruited. He laughs easily. He wears monotone khaki and almost-hornrimmed glasses. The eclectic french music really bugs him. He grunts when he takes his earphones out. He puts them right back in.
The outdoor fanatic over my right shoulder is heading to San Juan. Why someone would choose San Juan in the summer, I have no idea. Perhaps I should have asked him. That would have violated our coffee shop treaty though. The bike shop on the line is getting him a great deal for a $400 bike wheel. You know, something cheap. He’s set with extra spokes, tubes, and tires. It is fun to imagine what this man is like. His voice betrays a completely avid outdoorsman. So much excitement. It’s gonna be a good ride, apparently.
And me. The lady taking up two tables side by side. Who can’t decide between coffee or water, so both create cup rings next to the books. It’s a happy afternoon.
Hope yours is happy…and full of camaraderie.