In this place, boys are waiting, girls are waiting, birds are waiting. It’s coming, and we’re all waiting. Some of us not too patiently, but I’ve been patient. The unraveling of these years, the tapestry of life, has taught me not to fight what cannot be controlled. I’m smiling, while waiting, because it’s almost here.

In this place, a very old couple sit down at the counter. The old man is more able than his wife, and he waits as she struggles to sit. The seats are low. He says nothing, but offers her a hand– patience. I think about this guy I met at a party a few weeks ago; he’s nice, but young and timid. I remember when I was young, when I was timid, but I’m neither now, and can’t pretend to be. I asked a friend, “How do I feign shyness?” He laughed, and rightly responded, “You can’t.” (You’d think by now, I’d fully know myself, but of course, I don’t.) My friend said, “This isn’t the place for you.”

In this place, babies are soothed, as are we who have lived more years, by the soft voice of the female crooner on the speakers overhead. It would be great to know who’s singing, but of course, I can’t ask anyone around me. The singer’s voice, the accompanying strings, and the steady silence of us here, makes me want to cry. The good cry.

In this place, there’s one small window, and outside the window, there’s an emerald shrub. An old man has been sitting beside the window since I came in. He has been smoking the same cigarette for what seems to be a very long time. I don’t smoke, but he looks so pensive and absorbed, it makes me want to inhale some of the truth the cigarette seems to hold.

What is he thinking as he gazes out? Is he thinking, “That’s just a patch of green, but beyond that shrub lies fields?” Is he thinking, “I’ve lived eighty years and I’ve reaped fields and tumultuous seas, but there’s so much more to see?” Is he thinking, “I’m looking out of a pane of glass, but I’m just glass myself, a surface that even I have barely scratched?” Is he thinking, “I’m breakable and have been in pain, but there’re few more resilient than me?” Is he thinking, “Afternoons are made for dreaming, lazing in coffee shops, watching smoke exhaled from nostrils, sipping black coffee, reflecting on chances held and chances lost?”

A middle-aged couple want to remember this place, and I do too. They’re capturing the sea, he with a long lens camera, and me with a pen. He’s moved the camera from the waves to her face. She’s posing; her hair’s flying, but her face is serene. He starts running; she races behind with glee. This is what is called youthful exuberance. They play hide and seek behind a rock. They stop and survey the ocean. I pause to survey them and recognize that we’re in the same place, a part of the same thing– what is this joy?

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