There are times when one is perusing the local bookstore, dining in the park, or gazing at the stars, when they are assaulted by the strangest of notions. How did I get here? What chain of events led me to this very moment and what is its purpose? For me, those fleeting moments of inquiry often occur in a coffee shop. Tucked alone in a corner, I can delude myself into thinking I am in my own quaint universe. That is until I look up.
When I do take a short break from whatever happens to have captivated my attention for the moment, as one should, it is like a faucet turns on. I am suddenly slapped in the face by the sensory items I’ve often learned to ignore. Warm earth tones greet my eyes, nutty smells of freshly ground coffee tease my nostrils, the chill of the air forcing those to consume more warm beverages give me goosebumps, and the low rumblings of conversation play a melody for my sensitive ears.
Today was like any other day I visited this particular coffee shop. There was a mish-mash of customers ranging from local teens gossiping about the latest earth shattering scandal to hipsters discussing which obscure coffee bean that they chose to partake in that day to professionals going over the remnants of their work day. Then there’s me; somewhere between college student and young professional. Drifting in the void and feeling the pressure of having to get a job that actually utilizes my skills.
I sipped my normal caramel, hazelnut latte that the barista had come to associate with me and sketched out some ideas for my latest side project. Then it hit me. The moment that leaves a faint, bittersweet taste in your mouth long after it has passed. The moment when I began to both question and see everything.
Lines of connection began to form in my mind as I looked at the people around me. The three teenagers in the corner were obviously from the same school. The logo stitched into each of their sweaters alerted me to that fact. But there were subtle differences. One was of a lower social class than the other two. More likely than not on an academic scholarship. She would feel the undeniable pinch of the $5 coffee on her wallet. I doubted she would be going up for another, so she savored every sip; cradling it in her hands like a prized possession. Her face attempted to mask her thoughts on their costly ritual because fitting in seemed that much more important.
The couple in the corner dressed in the latest of hipster trends tried to outtalk one another about the sustainability of some new product. Tension strained between them. The guy’s knuckles clenched his iced beverage tightly as he tried to get his point across. He wore no ring, but the other did; engaged? A gold band wrapped around dainty fingers and a ill shaped rock rose awkwardly. It caught the light on several occasions and sent off a firework of colors across the room.
My ears led me away to a group of professionals dressed in slacks discussing current events at the bar that separated the barista from her customers. It appeared one was more conservative than the other two. His opinions rose to the ceiling and made several other occupants turn to watch the exchange. His face red, hair perfectly coifed as he stood upon his podium stating his case. The other two did not back down. They matched his passion with fervor. Upon realizing that they had an audience, the group continued their debate with hushed tones and rapid-fire responses.
I sat back in my chair just as an older couple wandered in. The husband clasped his wife’s fingers like they were his lifeline and maybe they were. They became enthralled by the artwork hanging on the walls. The wife with her cropped grey hair had narrowed in on a piece in the corner. Her head obscured the majority of the art work, but I noted hints of blue and green; a water scene perhaps. One of the hipsters rose and greeted the couple. Paint coated pants stood along tailored chinos. The artist. Soon they settled on a price and money exchanged hands. They set a date for pick-up. The older woman’s smile brightened, crows feet danced along her eyes.
What led us here? Every choice we make has consequences both positive and negative. For the artist and the older couple, their chanced meeting left them both brighter than when they arrived. For the young girl and the professionals, their choices left them a twinge worse. But why? Why? Why are we all here? Why have our choices not let us to a catastrophe or some state of equivalent good fortune. Why did we choose here?
The universe is a large spans of cosmic elements that have left me wondering what is my purpose and why did I choose that particular moment to witness all of the things that I did? Why? What purpose do they serve? Do I draw upon this experience in some distant moment in time? What will be the reason for the recall? Will it resolve some situation? Or will it just become a faint blip in my finite lifespan?
I don’t know the answer, but I sure have fun asking.
*This is my work and use of it without my expressed permission is prohibited.*