These days I find myself with samples of free time. When I’m not at school, or working, or painting, or napping (because naps are very important) I’m sitting in a café inside Barnes and Nobles.
Most of the time I read, or I study. But on some occasions, I observe.
Nothing major, just simply watching the movements going on around me.
Sometimes I’ll notice a woman on her laptop, furiously typing away. Perhaps she has a deadline and she left the office for a change of scenery. I respect that. Maybe she’s sending someone an angry email. Who knows. Maybe she was lurking, and got lost in the sauce. Found some shit she didn’t like, and now she’s mad. Happens to the best of us.
fun fact: I’m a grade A lurker (my contact services and information are below) and without exaggeration, NINE TIMES OUT OF TEN, my punk ass usually ends up getting my own feelings hurt from the stuff I’ll find. Lurking should come with a warning sign.
She has a look of determination set in her expression. If she was peeping around, she found what she was looking for and she ain’t having it. I feel for you, girl. Whatever it is, whoever he is, I know this woman is out for blood. I’m rooting for you, Brenda.
Maybe it’s a young man and a young woman on a date.
Those are special, because you can tell a lot about people by their body language. The couple across the room are sitting face to face, leaning towards each other, open palms, relaxed posture. I bet they like each other a lot. Occasionally he’ll take a swig of coffee, but really I think it’s just for show, because she hasn’t really touched her’s either.
They look like they’re having a good time, and that makes me happy. I bet when she goes home tonight, she’ll replay the mental image of him using his hands to conjure images in the air, fit for his narrative. And when he goes to bed, he’ll picture her blushing and laughing. They look so into each other. I’m having a hard time not staring, because they look sweet. And cause they’re really loud. I really hope they don’t turn in my direction, because I don’t want them to think I’m judging them or anything.
(However, if they did turn to look at me, I’d probably just be like, “I’m not creeping, you young Romeo and Juliet, I’m just a lonely independent Latina sipping on coffee and minding my own business.” And then they’d probably go back to throwing their obvious attraction for each other in front of the rest of us single, independent folks in that coffee place. How dare they.)
Best of luck to the two of them.
My favorite, however, is the person who sits alone with their book. It’s so fascinating. When they’re in their own little world, nothing to distract them. In this moment, there is an elder man beside me, drinking his tea and reading a book. I can’t see the title but he seems to be engulfed by the novel. You can tell by the facial expressions he makes as he changes pages. Sometimes he’ll put his hand under his chin and furrows his eyebrows like he’s confused. Other moments he’ll relax his arms and fold his legs like he’s pleased. He has a scar on his left cheekbone. I wonder where he got it. There’s a story behind everything. Sometimes they’re funny, sometimes they’re heartbreaking. Scars are proof of moments that happened, whether out of recklessness or bravery, that story came with strings.
I don’t pretend to be wise, but lately I’ve been observing the things that go on around me with a little more intensity.
We pass other people in this life, without knowing their story. It’s amazing. Do you ever walk by someone and wonder what they’re like? I mean, everyone has tales and memories and ideas and troubles. Don’t you ever wonder what they are? I look at people and I think.
Not in a mean way, just out of curiousity. I wonder what their first kiss was like and what their biggest dreams are and what they plan on achieving in the next couple of days. I wonder if they’ve ever had their heart broken, or if they broke someone else’s. How did it affect them? How did they get through it? I wonder if they like their job, if they’re happy in their marriage. I wonder what kind of music they dance to in front of their mirror, what their ambition is, what they think about.
I’ll probably never see any of these strangers again. Because once they leave this coffee shop, I’ll forget their faces, and we may never cross paths again. To someone, they might just be an extra character in the background of their life, sipping on coffee or cleaning the tables. But to someone else, that person is a friend, a daughter/son, a lover, an enemy. There is not one person in this world that hasn’t experienced some sort of pain. I think about this a lot.
The older I get, the more I see people as a combination of others I’ve met before them. Someone’s voice might remind me of his. Someone’s laugh might take me back to another time, another place, another moment.
My advice to you is this: go to a coffee shop. Sit. Observe. Watch the world around you. Take it in. Notice the couple in front of you. Notice the elderly gentleman beside you. Breath it in. Live in that moment. Let’s view others not as strangers, but as people, with their own stories.
I’ll always wonder what people see when they look at me. Who do they think about? What place do they get taken back to? Was it someone they loved? Someone they knew once upon a time? Someone they’d rather never think about again?
I suppose I’ll never know