You’d think the pervading smell would be bitter and rough on the senses, like espresso, but instead it is a full scent, red-colored like cedar. I look down and see the reason: old, worn wooden floorboards, chipped in places and streaked with scratches from chairs dragged by old friends.
I tire of my book because it is not what fits my current mental puzzle piece, so I put it down. I place it carefully along the curve of a metal enclosure, hugging an ancient stove no longer in use as anything except a table upon which someone has placed flowers… red-pink, brilliantly homely flowers. Obviously picked from the back yard. These flowers speak to me, tell me that there is no need for high expectations, they whisper to me that leaves are just leaves and petals are simply petals and I am simply… sitting at this table across from you.
You sit across from me at this tiny wooden table burdened by our cups of chai lattes (mine with a shot of espresso, it is a coffee shop after all) and our laptops. I write as you learn French, I glance up at you to try to express in language who you are in this moment and you meet my fleeting gaze, lips turning up at the edges, wondering why I keep staring at you. I counter by looking behind you, at the worn brick wall decorated by old hangers, only a minority of which used to carry lopsided paintings depicting beaches and donkeys and homes and different ages. There are holes in the brick wall; I wonder why? Were they used to carry things too, once upon a time? Now there are only a few paintings, were there dozens or hundreds or thousands? How many voices were portrayed in paint upon these walls?
And how many times will you have to listen to my voice, slipping its way into your mind through the words, the lifetimes I describe to you here? I am in a coffee shop, only one of the multitudes who have passed this way, only one of the infinite amount of humans who have existed at this latitude and longitude yet I am here now and I am changing everything. Perhaps we can feel the past, feel the remains of the souls who have stood, sat, or walked here and made some kind of minute change. I try to open my mind to such differences; all I see and feel are the flowers and the sense that perhaps I should have gotten the smaller size of coffee.