The summer heat is torturous. My little bedroom has transformed into an oven. Even at maximum, my stand fan can only do so much; after all, the air it circulates is still warm air. So I grab my backpack and toss in my PDA, its keyboard, and a book. Destination: the mall.
I was silly to think that mine was an original idea. It turns out SM North is jampacked with enough people to stage another People Power. Everyone has sought refuge in the mall’s cool climate. I take a look at the movies list, but nothing strikes my fancy. So I walk to Figaro only to find that my favorite spot has been taken. Sigh. Starbucks then.
At Starbucks, the only empty spot is one by the entrance and beside the trash bin. Well, this will have to do for now. I mark my territory by leaving my bag on the wooden seat. Time to get a frap. This afternoon it’s coffee-based rhumba frap. Frapuccino and a book, in an airconditioned place. Perfect recipe for a sweltering summer afternoon.
In a few minutes, a table farther from the entrance is vacated. I see other people eyeing it, but I’m determined to make it mine. So I stride to the table with my things, hoping that my deliberate and almost cocky maneuver would intimidate competition. It works. Above my new spot is an aircon vent. Nice.
The music from my earphones does not completely eradicate ambient noise. But it’s enough to give me a bit of solitude and privacy.
Solitude is bittersweet, I muse. I like it because it gives me an opportunity to take long, deep breaths, both literally and figuratively. When I have company, I tend to blabber no end, barely catching my breath. By my lonesome, however, no words need to be uttered; just thoughts and feelings to be sorted and examined, prayers to be whispered, deep breaths to be taken.
But solitude is also disconcerting. Because it can be brutally honest. One is never really alone in solitude; he is actually with his Inner Self. It is that part of a person that gets obscured and muffled by the hectic activities of daily life. It is that part which, in solitude, demands an audience.
Right across my small circular table is an empty wooden seat. It’s not really empty. And so I begin a muted conversation.