Monday was a state holiday in observance of Martin Luther King Day. Sleeping in until six thirty a.m. felt decadent, luxurious, with the whole day stretching before me with no appointments to keep or places to be.
For a long time the soft bed held sway, and she read her book as if adrift on a cloud. Eventually, though, hunger got the best of her, rumbling loud enough to be heard outside of her body. With a sigh she closed the novel about blood feuds and Vikings and began thinking about where to go, on this beautiful sunny afternoon.
Old Soul 40 Acres was closer but the coffee bar in the rear alley on L Street was her favorite. It was there she used to go on Sunday mornings while Lover was sleeping in, where they had often gone together hand in hand under the sun and the rain, too. (One of those stories here.)
She packed up her bright pink laptop and set out for Memory Lane.
The bistro was slow when she entered, with only one fuchsia-haired customer in front of her.
“And what can get I for you?” the barista asked. He had a full red beard with waxed mustachio tips and freckles across every inch of his face, bright green eyes, and a wide, white smile.
She smiled back and ordered a mocha with a shot of caramel. After a moment’s thought, she ordered a sandwich as well.
“Go on, get yourself settled and I’ll bring it to ya,” the man said with a wink, and she gratefully ducked her head in a nod of thanks.
Minutes later she was tucked into a chair and reviewing over her manuscript, the long work of the past year. Commas, she seemed to love to sprinkle commas like too much seasoning into every line; dutifully she applied an editor’s eye and omitted the worst offenders.
Her coffee came, along with her lunch, brought by the red-bearded man.
“Ya have a serious look about ya,” he said, arranging her plate and napkin just so.
“Anything we do for love should be taken seriously,” she countered but gently, teasing. His coppery eyebrows shot up at that, and he laughed, a fully belly laugh that came up from deep below.
“That it should, that it should,” he agreed. The bell over the door jangled as a crowd of people entered, talking and throwing back their damp hoods and unzipping their winter jackets in the warm coziness of the cafe.
The barista bustled back to the counter to take their orders, and she drifted back into her work, remembering as she read the inspiration for each moment, every touch and whisper.
Perhaps twenty minutes or so passed before she heard: “Land’s sake, I didn’t know those things even came in that color!”
Blinking, she looked up–straight into the bright blue eyes of a tiny bird-like woman eating a banana and staring at the pink laptop.
“Yes, I’ve always thought it was unusual these don’t come in more colors, actually,” she replied. “This is an older model; I don’t think they make these anymore.”
“Well, I never,” the elderly lady clucked, looking at the Vaio from either side. “Sure is pretty.” Her fluffy white ponytail and jerky, sudden movements gave the impression of a curious cockatiel. “You an artist? You seem like one. You have that aura about you.”
“I’m a writer,” she replied slowly. “I guess that qualifies.”
“You guess, huh?” She swallowed a last bite of the banana. “Only you know for sure, if you is or if you ain’t.”
“I am a writer,” she affirmed with a laugh. “I can’t be responsible for what other people think, if that qualifies me as an artist or not.”
“Sassy, aren’t you?” The older woman beamed. “That’s a fine quality. I like you.”
And with that she wandered off.
Bemused, the writer shut down her laptop and drained the dregs from her coffee mug. The alert on her phone signaled that she had five minutes left to either feed the parking meter or decamp.
She chose to go, saying goodbye to the red-bearded barista and waving to the cockatiel woman as she pushed back out into the brisk winter’s afternoon.
Not a day went by when she didn’t feel positively affirmed by her choice to move from Grass Valley to Sacramento.
But today in particular was a wonderful reminder of all the different kinds of people you could meet, if only you started out with a smile.