At first, when I read the details of assignment number eight for the Writing 101 blogging prompt, I thought there was no way I could do it. I considered deleting the assignment and moving on to number nine. Then I realized that this was an opportunity to make changes in my writing style. A chance to grow. So I went to a cafe in my mind. One I’d visited before while working in New York City. I recalled the day I sat observing and journaling. Please enjoy the following.
I got there early, hoping to have my pick of seats. I am not comfortable sitting too close to others. The waitress came to my table as I was opening my laptop. This was my first visit to Aubrey’s Cafe, so I asked for the WiFi password. I figured if I suffered a case of writer’s block, I could always go surfing. I ordered a vanilla latte and a chocolate chip muffin.
I glanced around the cafe. There were seven others occupying themselves at their computers while sipping on hot beverages and munching on pastries. Some were pounding on their keyboards. Others were tapping. A few were serious, while others seemed relaxed. But one person grabbed my attention. She was crying while typing. I don’t think she was even aware that there were other patrons in the cafe. Of course I wondered what was bothering her. What could be that upsetting? I remembered the day I was journaling at the Paramount Hotel in the City while waiting for lunch to be brought to my table. I had just gone through a divorce, and was in a negative mood. I got drawn in to what I was writing and didn’t see the waitress standing beside me holding a tray of food. So I understood how it was possible to zone out and be unaware of your surroundings.
Perhaps this woman was reading bad news in an email. Maybe she stumbled onto a sad story in a blog. I found a blog post last week that brought me to tears. A woman wrote about her latest visit with her grandmother who was a resident at a nursing home. She had lost her sight, and was not able to read or watch TV. The granddaughter asked her what she thinks about all day. Does she reminisce about grandpa? The grandmother said, “Yeah, I think about him from time to time. But what I think about the most is how you are doing. What your kids are up to. I think about our trips to the shore. Oh, I loved the beach.” I couldn’t help but think about my own grandmother who spent her last years in a nursing home. I teared up, and my bottom lip quivered.
I opened up Word on my laptop and started to write. Believe it or not, I was so deep into it that I didn’t see my latte and muffin arrive. I’m sure the waitress said something to me, but I never heard her. I just kept writing. By the time I finished what I had to say, I found myself sipping on lukewarm coffee. It was well worth it. I had composed a piece about my grandmother. I couldn’t wait to share it with my mom. Dad had passed away recently, and grandma was mom’s mother-in-law. Mom lost her mother when she was young, and grandma was like a second mom. In fact, grandma went along with mom and dad when they eloped to Maryland. Mom was only fourteen. Grandma signed for mom to get married, stating she was mom’s mother. I always thought that was cool for some reason.
The young woman in the cafe wiped her eyes with a napkin, took one last swig of her coffee, and closed her laptop. She left money on the table and headed for the door. I noticed a man lurking outside and had a funny feeling things were about to get interesting. As she stepped out onto the sidewalk, the man came up to her with an angry look on his face. He grabbed her by the hair and pulled her to him. He said something to her through gritted teeth. She mouthed the words, “I’m sorry,” and stood there as if in complete submission. He made a fist and got in her face. No one on the sidewalk bothered to come to her aid. Most people walked around the couple.
I just sat there watching and taking a sip from my now-cold latte.