In the coffeehouse

Killing time before my writing class, perhaps waiting for something in the way one waits for Godot. A blue-haired girl with large, round rimmed glasses is to my left, Misfits sticker prominently placed on her laptop, studying for what I think is a chemistry exam with a raven-haired girl with thick-rimmed black glasses. To my right, a young man in torn pants typing away on his laptop, which is in his lap instead of on the table. Is he hiding something?

Old men sit and talk of people they know, or have known; their tenses shift as often as they do, clearly uncomfortable on the hard wooden chairs. On the patio, a group of colleagues has some beer after work, badges still hanging around their necks. Flies buzz around, tempted, I suppose, by the general stickiness of the place.

Beast of Burden plays loudly, drowning out the white noise of the traffic outside.

So meta.

“An overproduction of phosphorous and nitrogen,” the student to my left says confidently. The song switches to something very 60s, something I can’t quite place, but can imagine someone once dropping acid to in some long-lost time.

The 60s began nearly 60 years ago. It doesn’t seem so far away, until you start assigning numerical values to the distance.

Numbers ruin everything.

I know, because I work with numbers for a living.

There’s someone else here with a tattoo of an anatomically correct heart – I emphasize that because I’ve never been one for ❤ symbols, not since I was quite young. His has leaves growing out of it; mine is a heart turning to crystal wrapped in thorns, a testament to my guardedness.

Heart symbols make me feel dysphoric. I’ve never told anyone that before. They’re too associated with a sort of femininity that I’m just not. That’s not a value judgment. I don’t hold myself above it, or place myself below it; I simply cannot be it.

I’m sitting in what was once a church pew. I wonder how many prayers were said here, how many repentant hearts sat in existential torment listening to some sternly worded sermon, how many were truly sorry and how many were simply afraid of the promised consequences.

That thought leads me thoughts of mortality. My next birthday ends in a 0. I’ll give you a hint – it ain’t 30.

A portrait of the artist being a pretentious coffeehouse cliche.

The purple is fading out of my hair. I’m letting it go. I’m ready for a change.

This neighborhood is what one might call vibrant – busy, lived-in, full of coffeehouses and cafes and tidy little French restaurants and old houses converted to apartments or bed and breakfasts. Hipsters and students roam the sidewalks, pointedly ignoring the homeless people who tend to congregate on the grassy areas. They experience less harassment, I suppose, in a more residential area, and perhaps their neighbors are inclined to slip them some money or food or clean socks now and then.

I walked several blocks to get here, to this hard little pew tucked away in the back of what I think used to be a garage. There are garage doors in the front and back, open because it’s cool this evening here in Denver. Coloradans do like our fresh air.

There are no mirrors in the bathroom of this coffeehouse. I think I like that. We spend entirely too many precious moments worried about how we appear to others.

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