City coffee

City coffee

Sometimes in the city I like to sit in a cafe by myself and listen to the goings on around me. It seems someone always runs into someone that they have not seen for a while. There is the initial excitement of the recognition, the “what are you doing in the city?” conversation. A quick chat and then the inevitable struggle to find an ending so they can order their coffee. I like these conversations. They are on stage. Everyone in the cafe is listening trying to understand the connection. 

I don’t really people watch. I more people listen. Alone in the company of others. When I walk the city streets I watch others. How they dress. The little symbols they have on their clothes or backpacks that identify them with something. Little stories about them for everyone to see. 

My life at home is so different. There is no sitting alone in a cafe. In a town of ten thousand you know everyone and everyone knows you. You cannot sit and write or work as it is a social time. You cannot be lost in the crowd because you belong. In a small town we all sort of belong to each other. Our lives are intertwined. 

Interestingly enough, I feel I belong here too in this small city where I know only a handful of people. I lived here for a couple of years a long time ago. When I visit now a few days every few months I always stay in the same neighbourhood. It is not like I get familiar with the restaurants or cafes. I just feel comfortable here alone with a coffee because in the city many people seem to be alone. Alone but not lonely. 

I notice this when I walk. So many people walking to somewhere on their own. Their community is not carried with them the way it is in a small town. It does not follow you everywhere you go.

I like to walk in the city. Everyone looks like they are going somewhere important. When perhaps many of them are like me just walking or going to get coffee. They are on their way to and from work, on the way to find their little community in the midst of urban life.

There are benefits to both. I love and crave both and feel that I can easily slip from one to the other.  There is no perfect good life. It is only the life we make wherever we are. 

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  • Deanne Fitzpatrick
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