I bought my café mocha and plopped down my computer at a small table in P.J.’s. I was determined to write. My deadline was a month away. I was going to put something down on that paper, damnit!
A brown haired woman at the other table fiddled with her phone and computer. She smiled and chatted with people in the café. What if she looked my way? I was so busy. I just needed to type. I looked down at the blank page.
A little woman shuffled through the door, bought her coffee and looked around the café for a seat. No open spots, it would seem. I tried to type, and then I looked up at the brown haired woman, standing next to me.
“May I move my computer to your table? She needs somewhere to sit down.” She motioned toward the feeble old woman. I said yes. I tried to look busy, but she began to talk.
She complained about how long it took her phone to charge. I nodded and murmured accordingly. I looked back at my screen, an empty screen. She continued to talk cheerfully, part of me was frustrated at the distraction, but another part welcomed the contact.
She wanted to talk. I thought that I did not want to talk, but before long, I pulled out my phone and showed her a picture of my daughter after she showed me a picture of her daughter. We chattered and laughed.
I wondered why she was in the café at that time during the day. She confirmed what I suspected that she, like me, was not working full time. I felt so angry and embarrassed about my situation. She just shrugged her shoulders and continued to smile. “That’s just the way it is sometimes,” she said.
“What do you do?” I found myself asking this virtual stranger, really wanting to know what she thought. She smiled and said: “I watch people, and in this city, they are hilarious.” We both laughed and exchanged more stories and phone numbers and promises to meet again to people watch, but we never ended up meeting again.
I talked with a friend a few days later about the meeting with this brown haired woman. I marveled at the coincidence about meeting someone who was in the same boat as me. My friend told me: “You needed to meet her.” I asked her: “But why?” My friend shrugged, not unlike the brown haired woman.
I needed to meet this woman. I, at that moment, needed a friend. I needed reassurance that I was not alone on my journey, as I thought that I was or thought that I wanted to be.
I needed a distraction from my head that would help me put my time not working in perspective. I needed perspective and companionship on this little piece of the road. I needed someone who was walking with me, not ahead or behind or looking from above. I was so quick to want to whine and complain and protest. Meanwhile, this woman was admiring the flowers on the road along the way. This piece of road, this passage of time and circumstance did not define her, nor did it define me, unless I wanted it to.
I wish I could say that immediately afterwards, my attitude shifted. Nope. The time passed, and I found full time work. Now I look back at the time I wasted when I was not working full time. I did not waste the time because I was not working. I wasted the time because I did not see it as the gift it really was, a disguised blessing.
The time was an opportunity to look around at the world with wonder and awe. The time was an opportunity to look more deeply at my growth as an individual. The time was also an opportunity to appreciate what I had, and what I now have.
I wonder if I will ever meet that woman again. I hope so, and I hope that I can sit and watch and wonder with her about this glorious creation.