Notes from New York

I am sitting in the coffee shop in New York City. My friend just left to run an errand, and I have a little time on my own, to think.

I am sitting in the coffee shop on a quiet street in Brooklyn, New York, United States of America. One of those impossible things. 10 years ago, 5 years ago I would not imagine this happening, perhaps only as a fantasy, nothing more.

I slowly look around, pausing in the moment, memorising the feeling.

I am feeling good. Calm and natural, sitting in this tiny shop, next to the people I don’t know, people I met by chance, and most likely will never see again. They don’t know who I am, where am I from, or where I am going next. Tomorrow I will fly across the Atlantic ocean, and this short morning encounter will be just a memory. A memory I hope to keep.

And I feel good, and welcome, and surprisingly free. Free to explore, see places, and meet people in this big wonderful world.

Young African-American man is sitting across the table from me. He is looking at his phone and smiling that gentle smile which happens when you talk to someone dear to you.

An elderly white lady is sitting to my right. She is eating a crepe and drinking hot and deliciously smelling coffee.

All 3 of us have so different backgrounds, experiences, such a different past.

I look at the two women who are serving us. They are young and friendly. I wonder if they own the place. And if not, who is the owner? What do they do? Where are they now?

Curious if coffee shop owners ever have similar thoughts. People come and go, some never ever come back. Do they ever wonder who we are? Where we’ve come from? Where are we going?

A take away order is ready, and the African-American man picks it up. He pays with his credit card. Signs the touch screen. ‘Have a nice day’ he says, and walks out. I am trying to imagine what he is doing next.

My thoughts are interrupted by the two loud guys walking in to get some coffee. They wait at the counter and talk animatedly. Something very important, apparently. They sit down next to me and continue talking. Business conversation.

Surprisingly, instead of a mobile phone or a tablet one of them gets a paper notebook and a pen out. He starts to write notes down as they talk. Eventually both of them do pull out their phones, to check the dates on their calendars.

I am thinking of what got me here. So many years to get to the point where a lot of others start from. Unfair? Sad for the time spent? Is that background of value? Sometimes I feel like I am starting living from scratch. Sometimes I think it is too late.

My skin feels old sometimes.

The lady finished her coffee and crepe. She is gone. A young woman takes her place. The two guys on the left keep talking business. They are in the construction industry and discuss renovations they are doing for a client. A woman is reading something on her phone.

More people come in, and I feel it is time to go. I head for the door, leaving these people to their crepes to cook, buildings to renovate, articles to read. It was nice to sit next to them for these 20 minutes, in the coffee shop, in New York City.

‘Have a nice day’ I say and walk out.