You invite yourself to a cup of coffee. And much to your surprise, you accept the invitation. For a change, the hundred and one urgent things will have to wait. Because now, the most pressing thing, second only to a much-needed massage, is the chance to sit beside yourself somewhere where soothing music is played, where time does not breathe down your neck, and, of course, where good coffee is served – piping hot for you and iced with whipped cream for yourself.
The coffee shop is a little too crowded than you’d like, but it’s quiet enough for your purposes. You choose a table with two chairs. You sit on one and then adjust the empty chair across you. Seated on that chair is yourself. There is an awkwardness that seems all at once funny and strange. You don’t look yourself in the eye.
“So, how have you been?” you ask yourself, swirling the stirrer in your cup as steam touches your face.
“Well, you know how I’ve been. What’s the point of asking?” you answer, the slight defensiveness surprises you a bit. You casually play with the chocolate-stained whipped cream with your straw.
“It’s good to hear you say it to yourself, you know. ‘Okay’ is overrated. Most anyone says they’re okay, even if nothing could be farther from the truth. So. Are you okay? Or something else?”
The bosa nova strains gracefully take over. Before the chorus repeats, the silence is broken.
“Okay,” you finally find your voice to say. “Okay – as in I’m ready to tell you how I’ve been. Which, as you have correctly guessed, is not ‘okay’.”
You nod. The same way your high school guidance counselor nodded, the kind that makes you wonder whether it’s a nod of agreement or just something people do when they don’t know what to say or when they really don’t care to listen but have to.
“Well, if you’re not okay, would you know why?” (So that nod was just a prelude to this.)
“Care to enumerate?”
You sip your coffee, taking care not to make a slurping sound because you don’t like hearing that, and it is not good to piss yourself off. Especially now when you’re opening up to yourself.
“Why do I have to enumerate?” you’re obviously stalling. You reach for your pocket and take out your cellphone. No new messages. No escape.
“You said you were ready.”
In that moment, a pimply teen with spiked hair makes his way to your table. He is with friends, and they’re all singing along with the bosa nova song playing in the background.
“Sir, is this seat taken?”
You pause for a moment, looking at the kid as if he had asked of you the most difficult thing.
“No. Go ahead, take it.”