A mother with two children and a laptop sits by the fireplace, where usually an artificial fire would be glowing and dancing in the shadows. She reprimands her toddler with a gentle voice and goes back to her screen. People filter in and out like grains of sand through a sieve. A woman to the left and behind me has been here longer than I, hard at work on her middle-aged degree, no doubt laboring for children unseen or a family in turmoil. Another woman, farther left, in a black dress with brightly colored stitching that is far younger than she, works eagerly on her computer. I can see energy in every movement she makes, an eagerness that is not to be taken lightly. Surely she has an important job.
The man in front of me is interesting as well. He is wearing a shirt advertising a youth program, subtle but eye-catching. The book he is reading is orange and looks to be non-fiction, perhaps a self-help or philosophy. They are all middle-aged, respectable-looking people. I feel out of place, a teenager in a grown-up world.
The man in front of me surprises me by apologizing for his phone conversation, which I hadn't noticed in the first place, and leaving to make his further calls. His politeness is astonishing in a world where we are subjected to constant rudeness and inconsiderate behavior.
These people are gathered around me, and although I do not know their names, where they come from, what they like or dislike...I still feel as if I know them. There is a quality about them and me, about this place, that knits us together and makes us forget our regular lives. A feeling of warmth and comraderey that we seem to have forgotten in our world.
And to think, it's only just a coffee shop.