A corner of the world

There’s a man talking to a lady at the table catty-cornered to mine across the aisle.  His voice catches my attention because it’s southern; that drawl didn’t originate in this area.  A glance shows he has a pleasant face, and he speaks with quiet ease.  His companion’s voice is more quiet, I can’t distinguish her as well.  She’s wearing a salt-and-pepper tweedy sweater, though, and a bright pink scarf.

I wonder what brings a man with a southern voice here today, to a mid-Atlantic city in the Appalacian foothills to chat with a lady wearing a pink scarf.  I wonder what the story is that brings them together, and here; I wonder what their two stories are, which cross in this place and time, where I can overhear.

So many stories, in the air, in the sounds around me, in the solidity of this corner of the world where I sit.  The seats of this booth are upholstered in a complex, strongly geometric pattern, colors of cinnamon and gold and café au lait.  Someone chose this fabric; someone wove these patterns.  Someone built the bench and the table, someone bolted them to this floor, which someone also had to pour in concrete and soften with carpet tiles.

Another lady paces up the aisle, slowly.  She wears a pink sweater, but a different pink than the scarf.  She walks as far as my table, slowly, but then turns and goes back the other way.  Some whim of thought sends her away, and I don’t know what it is.  I can’t see her story from here.

There are people standing in line and people behind the counter, people who are making food and people who have come to eat it.  Intersections of and wants and offers, carried around by these body-mind-spirits who cross each other’s presence with words, with bits of cash or plastic, with plates and silverware, with food.  Time was when people almost never ate alone, unless they really were alone in the world; time was when people ate commonly with the people closest to them, the people they shared lives and stories with as a daily matter of course.  Time was when the fuel and material of our bodies was nearly always made by someone we knew intmately, or when we made and provided it for the people we knew closely.  Eating with a stranger was to make them family.  It was a matter of extended trust and welcome.

In my place and time, it’s common to be fed by someone you don’t know.  I’m having tea made by people I’ve never met.  I ate a cookie baked by someone’s hands that I haven’t touched.  Is it a more trusting world, or a more blind one?

I’m sitting far indoors, and all I can see of the outside is a corner of window and a clipping of gray sky.  Many peoples through time and across the world have worshipped the sky as God, as the great eye that sees everywhere.  By my choice of seat, I have reduced the sky-God to a tiny gray corner of window.  Can it still see me here?  I suppose if it wants to, it can.  If the sky looked through the window of this cafe, it could find a corner of my face, my eye, my hair to study and perhaps ponder.

The lady in the pink sweater is back, she sits in the next booth down the row.  She chooses the table across the aisle from the man with the southern voice and the lady with the pink scarf, and we make a triangle, her and them and me, alone with my keyboard and my tiny computer and my notebook and pen, writing us all into a tiny story, a tiny corner of the world and time, full of questions and ideas and everyday wonders.  Cookies and tea, voices and ears, eyes and faces, and the privilege of experiencing them.


1 comment so far

  1. NancyN on

    It makes me feel at peace to see you looking outward. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s