I watch her through the open barred backs of the coffeeshop chairs. She nods her head in time to the music and flips pages of the book at her table. She takes a time out to lean back in her own chair, run a pen absently along her leg, and stare out the window-wall, across the narrow street to a standard brick-and-cement building that rises sharply, obscuring the view of anything that might be even remotely interesting in this equally drab downtown area. She reminds me of someone I go to school with, 1000 miles away. Amazing that in this land of stubborn individualism there are so many people who could be style-twins. Oh well. It doesn’t bother me, much; I’m used to it by now. One media, one representation, one mass culture. A few dozen subcultures, a few dozen or so ways of life. There are only so many combinations one can make with this limited number of fashion options available, no matter how valiant one’s attempt to remain purely neutral in the face of so many demanding demands. I do not blame her; she appears to be trying her best.
She looked over here and we almost made eye contact save for these empty chair backs. I felt sure we would have. But what then, then what? Would a connection have been made? Or would my watching merely have been interrupted, now awkward?
Sometimes I prefer not to know the “what if”- sometimes I take comfort in the stability and the anonymity of watching the girl with the burgundy hair and yellow highlighter held frequently and loosely between her lips do something that looks like homework.