This is the 4th coffee shop I have sat in in the last hour. I can’t seem to find my focus today. That’s a rare thing for me. Granted I have less important things to do nowadays, so focusing is not a life and death issue anymore, but still, it’s a rare (and unwelcome) thing. I don’t like it.
I walked out of the first coffee shop for no reason. No reason at all. Walked in then out and got back on the road. Nothing felt wrong about it. Just walked out. The second shop I went to I had not been to in a long time. It was kind of busy. A couple of groups of girls talking at the edges. Some guys standing by the door talking to each other, stalling to get out of there. I walked up to the counter to order but then stopped. Suddenly everyone in the shop sounded like seagulls. Loud, ugly, squawking seagulls. All of them screaming for my attention as if it was food they were begging for. Except one girl sitting by herself in a corner knitting. She ignored all of them. Suddenly I hated her the most. I walked out.
The third shop I went to was quiet. A large shop compared to the others. I had been there many times. Love their coffee and baristas. There were just 2 or 3 people. There were a couple of small children. The kids were playing rather quietly by themselves. Cute kids. I got out of there as fast as I could.
I thought about going to the grocery store. The rare times I can’t focus I go to the grocery store. I go in and walk around and look at the stuff. I don’t know why. I am not shopping for anything. I know ahead of time I am just going to go to the refrigerated section in the back and get a Borden’s Dutch Chocolate Milk. I know I am going to open it in the store and drink it as I look around some more. Then I will find in line at a cashier lane and pay for the empty bottle and walk out. I know I do this because it will take me back to my mom. To the days we went grocery shopping when I was little and I could always count on getting a Borden’s Dutch Chocolate Milk and drink it in the store. My mom died long ago.
But I skip the grocery store on this rare day. I head on to the coffee shop I am sitting at right now. I take a seat along a soft bench on one of the walls where there is room for three people to sit at 3 small tables. The other bench with across me is empty. There aren’t many people in the shop, but people slowly stream in. I notice people come in, look at both benches along the wall, and then pick the one I am not sitting at. After a while there are six people crunched together on the other bench and I am alone at this one. Those six people do not seem to know each other, but they all seem smart enough to stay away from my side. I am guessing I might just be giving off a vibe. Just maybe. I have been known to give off vibes.
I look at them and wonder about people I have seen over my many decades, but never really met. We all have these moments where we make some form of contact or bond with people we never talk to. Someone sitting in the same waiting room you are stuck in. Someone standing in the same line with you at the DMV. A classmate in high school or college you never spoke to. That girl in that hall that day. All of these people come to mind when I feel like this. They have no connection to me at all except that, for those few moments at least, they just happen to be on this planet at the same time I was and that is all I am ever destined to know about them. But sometimes, on days I can’t pick what coffee shop to go to, I think about them and I wonder where they are, and if they still share the planet.
I think about a poem I once wrote that begins like this:
“Sometimes I like to sit,
by and old, old tree,
and ask it what it knows,
and if it knows me…”
And I realize there are real answers to the questions I put forth in that poem, and that it was important to ask them even if I never discover the answers. The questions are important. The questions tell the story. And the story belongs to all of us.
I think of a lot of things when I am thinking I don’t feel like myself.
I think of hearts and how easy they are to break.
I think of where the hell is my 9×9 inch backing pan?
I think of how I love the smell of coffee so much, but how I hate the smell of it on my clothes.
I wonder if all dogs to go to heaven, and how I don’t want to be a part of a world in which that is not true.
I wonder why kids have to die of cancer. Then I realize that they don’t. They really don’t.
I wonder why I even think of any of these things, and, even more so, why I am telling you.
Anyway. I notice after a bit that a person sits next to me. Then another. I am guessing my vibe is diminishing or the place is getting so full no one cares where they sit. Either way, that is my cue to get out of here.
I hope you guys are having a better day.