Reading The Stranger

There’s a young woman sitting at the table across from me. Every time I look up from my book, I notice how beautiful she is. A beauty entirely hidden if not for the soft brown curls that frame her face and the lazy Sunday mornings she reminds me of despite her apparent agitation with the notebook under her pencil.

Every time the door opens with the tinkling of a bell, I look up expectantly. Except I somehow missed Ton coming into the cafe. He startled me when he sat down next to me in one quick, fluid motion. I don’t remember telling him where I’d be, but I must have. My mind still hasn’t recovered completely from the lack of sleep. The latte on my table is getting cold. “Sometimes I think of you as I’m drinking my tea, and it is getting cold and the day isn’t even half over.” Every time I read that line, I think back to my days working in San Francisco, when I used to will time to carry me to 5 o’clock. Now I’m constantly marveling at how quickly time passes, how many hours are lost in conversations and how there is never enough time to read.

As my latte cools, I’m reading Camus and thinking about how trite it is for me to finally settle on a cafe in this city and it is called Cafe Belong. More people are coming in, the noise level is rising, and I realize there are people who go to cafes to socialize, to go over pictures on their cameras and chat with their friends. The bell by the door keeps tinkling and I keep glancing up. “If you want to give it another shot, I’ll be there till 4.” I tried to not read too much into the message as I wrote it. I tried to keep hope at bay, disappointment and hurt out of my voice.

I think about consciousness and the burden it places on our souls, that with consciousness ends our ability to be content, to be satisfied and the effort we put into numbing that consciousness. With alcohol and drugs, with sex and love, with travels and escapes. With meditations. With a yoga mat under my feet, Dvorak playing, and lightening splitting the sky.

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