I sat looking out through the windows of the cafe. The alfresco brave sat in duffle coats or craving warmth from an ember between a pair of fingers. A steady stream of tobacco smoke slowly drifting in the cold sunlight of November. I hugged my hot chocolate with both hands after working through the mountain of cream precariously with the end of one of those extra long green thick straws meant for the summer drinks. The glass door opens with another customer and a blast of icy air floods in around my knees and my ripped jeans making the cafe heating more evident. The pigeons tapping away around the tables outside define the tourist nature of a Starbucks by the sea.
It may be a little capitalist here but it’s a home while I need time to think; and not just for me. Someone with a laptop staring furiously at the screen waiting for some kind of idea to jump out of them. A couple on the sofa chairs out for the afternoon both of them staring at their mobiles silently taking intermittent automated sips from their white embossed-branded mugs. A few tables away is an elderly middle-eastern gentleman, with a head scarf and a grey wiry beard that took some patience to grow, sitting quietly without a drink. I almost feel like buying him a cup of tea but for fear of offending him in case I’ve misread his fortune or lack of.
It’s been a while since I’ve just sat in a cafe and people-watched. That’s not to say I haven’t been at the cafes by any means, I’ve just had my head stuck at the screen working so much or had my head in the thoughts that drive me day to day about the gender thing that I’ve not stopped for a while and just taken a look around. Next time you’re sat in a cafe take a look. I don’t mean just a brief covert glance, stop for a moment and really take things in. Life really is eclectic, there must be at least thirty stories to tell in here right now. It doesn’t matter if what you see and think is the actual truth but I can make a good educated guess at who some of these people are. As much as gender issues are really the current thing at the moment which may be seen by some as outside of the norm, sitting in a cafe and watching how diverse people are – there is no norm.
If I was able to, if Starbucks was open late and they provided a decent sofa and if I had an endless pocket of change then I would quite happily watch other people all evening rather than watch the television. The diversity of people just shows that really, apart from gender stuff being slightly unusual right now, we’re really no different. We all have our daily problems. We have our good days, our bad days, days when we choose skinny and others when full-fat milk and topped with cream is the only thing that will do. I just suppose some of us put aside the things that make us different and conform to the society we are supposed to adhere to and then regretting sticking to the middle line at the end of our lives and wishing we’d been the different person we are.
The elderly gentleman is still sat on his own. At least an hour or more without a drink quietly sat there. I wonder what he is thinking. Is he mulling over his thoughts, is he just waiting for opportunity to spring it’s luck on him or is he just content because he has already solved the meaning of life and is happy in the knowledge that everything is going to be ok? He seems to have little worry and, other than what my future holds, I suppose my only worry at this minute is how much time is left on my parking ticket.
The afternoon seems long. It may be a Friday and people are winding down for the weekend but yet it has a Saturday afternoon about it. With low winter sun comes long shadows. It’s funny how small things like that define how we feel about the day. At the bottom of a hot chocolate came an order of an Americano. As much as I love hot chocolate I feel the guilt of it etching away at my teeth and my coins alike. A bitterness that is heads and tails away from the sweetness. Ideal to flip my way of thinking in an instance much like those long sun cast shadows. The bitterness of the coffee brings on more methodical thinking for a moment at least. Things like the letter I should have written a few weeks ago about one of the missing blood tests to the gender clinic in London but I know I should be taking this day like a Ferris day out. A break from work. Living for the moment as they say, the here and now and all that.
I have to be thankful, to myself at least, for getting to a place in my head where I feel comfortable in the places I like to be in the clothes that I like to wear and damn anyone else; well – some. It must be something I need to remind myself of from time to time so that I know that given how far I’ve moved forward and how normal things are now that if I continue to make those little changes then where I want to be in the future will be just as normal everyday as it is now.
At the end of my coffee I grabbed my black denim jacket, the one with the buttons down the left, and headed to the door noticing that the elderly gentleman had somehow quietly left without notice. The water in the bay was gloss black with gentle gloopy waves with a hint of yellow sun reflecting back in ever changing loops. If you want to examine yourself, take time out to examine others, and then reflect.
Until next time