Today I spent all day in a coffee shop, sinked into an oversized couch, watching life circle around me. It was terribly comfortable (I never got up from my seat): dim interiors, a crackling fireplace, large worn-out couches, bookshelves with rows and rows of books (decorations I presume, nobody was reading.)
At 10 a.m., a group of mothers stroll in. Japanese, holding plump Asian babies dressed up in Halloween attire. One was a pumpkin, another a bee. Their giggles waft like the coffee aroma in the store. Babies are exchanged, kisses planted, the fast staccato of their dialect signaling a period of happiness, of delight, and growth.
At noon, a trio of women enter. They have visible wrinkles in the corner of their eyes, but are alert and they all sit up straight, legs crossed. The leader has blond, stiff hair, pearls and is in all black. The others look like variations of her — one with glasses, the other a brunette. Within minutes, the table in front of them is quickly populated with stacks of papers and a single laptop. They begin reading. Manuscripts. A writer’s club. Two more people join the group, among them, a woman with red lipstick and a heavy Russian accent. Her story is one on death, conflict, the USSR. The plot gets thick, quickly. “The doctor told us we could lose him anytime…”
And then to my front, slowly, a group of grandmothers playing cards. “Five of aces.” “Pass” “Two queens.” In between the movements of the game, they chat about golf at Terrenea resort, how one of them almost fell, and then, a heavy conversation on aging. “ So in regards to this virus I have, I’ve been seeing this doctor and he’s all about Eastern medicine.” The group resonates with variations on the word “Interesting,” trying hard to contain their judgments. They talk about how it could be worse. How it could have been cancer. “How’s the grandchild?” someone decidedly interrupts, breaking the ice. “Beautiful, beautiful, she’s terribly bright.”
A baby wails and all of a sudden, I’m aware.
Talks of death, of ambition, of birth. So many stages in life under one roof. One by one, the groups eventually file out. And it’s just me, and a couple of girls on their laptop, checking their emails, headphones on, looking bored.
“Hey babe how was your day?”
I look up, my trance interrupted. It’s Clark and he’s come to pick me up.
I collect my things, my work and we step into the brisk air of autumn’s evening.
I look back at the coffee shop, now completely empty.
“I learned a lot.”