Safe Strangers

I notice a girl sitting at the far left corner of the coffee bar.
My left was other’s right depending on the cardinal direction of your
snout. I imagine her head wading in water when I noticed the laptop. The half visible face lingers like a hippo in the water – half above, half below the screen. Is she looking at me?  I just sat down after ordering my coffee. I kept busy rustling through my bag and busy thinking. I was wondering why I didn’t just take control of the situation and get a good look at her. I can be so damn confident when I’m drunk. Was a thought. I can be so damn confident in general. Was another. Growing up takes that away from you until you fucking earn it. Was the conclusion.

My name gets called. My coffee is ready. I decided to use my moment of retrieval as a chance to quickly analyze this familiar stranger. I, with limited grace, obscenely stare as I’m walking towards the bar to get my iced americano. It is hot today. The girl had identical hair highlights to a girl I was in high school with. That was the only thing I took away from the amaranthine seconds I crowded her self-security. I notice when the barista calls my name, it sounds slightly abrasive. The shop was busy, but it certainly isn’t bumpin. Maybe I was feeling overly sensitive but I still feel like he could have been friendlier. We aren’t friends by any modern societal standard but we aren’t totally strangers. I frequent this joint like a goddamn beatnik. This is my escape. I consider him safe in a way. Maybe that is what makes us strangers. Then I sigh.

In this small, indoor sea of midwest mimes. Drowning in and out of my audio threshold – I feel alone and anxiety subsides.

TM

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