“Sir, can I sit here?”
“Yes, of course.”
I never used to so comfortably ask to sit with a stranger. And I certainly never call a man sir, it’s so proper, and he was wearing an Iron Maiden shirt so I especially don’t know why I did it. I am not shy, but avoidance is easier. Entirely simple interactions sometimes feel weighty and exerting. It’s not a type of avoidance derived from the fear of being awkward, for I’ll gladly make a fool of myself and not overthink it after the fact. Rather, it is an avoidance stirred from my being so deep within myself, that it’s hard for me to find solace in other things besides myself, make sense?
I walk around so deep in thought that I’m often confused for being sad. I suppose it’s a reasonable assumption, as sadness does have a way of making one introspective. But I’m hardly sad. I just only speak to people if I have to, and that’s if I’m being spoken to…or ordering something to eat.
This is not to suggest that I don’t like people, for I do. But I just rather look at the symmetry (or lack thereof) of their faces. See their repetitive hand gestures or inability to sit for long in their seat. I want to study them. I want to be a listener. A person’s idiosyncrasies tell me far more than their scripted words do. I feel like a hypocrite because I too, often reply, “Oh that’s nice”, or other bland scripted fillers to bridge silences in the conversations I’m not fully invested in… conversations in which I strategize ways to escape with an “I have to head to class now, ” or “It was nice running into you, but I have to call my mom back, it might be something important.”
(Haha, if I’ve said either of the two to you before, don’t worry, sometimes I’m actually telling the truth. Sometimes…)
That’s another thing, silence. If you want to know whether I like/ love you, assess if I can comfortably be silent with you. I talk less the more comfortable I am sometimes. Small talk has become the only form of talk for many. It’s small talk that drains the shit out of me. I get bored too easily and wish someone would ask me something radical every now and then. I like people who don’t sit on the fence of contemplation. Just lose the filter from time to time and say something that might piss me off. It’ll prompt a worthy dialogue. Just don’t be too much of an asshole though, I remember everything people tell me. Discretion is key homie.
I topped too much cinnamon on my iced coffee and it gave me flashbacks of when I was 12 and choking on a spoonful of cinnamon for one of those challenges. I practically almost died, and I couldn’t forgive my little sister for forgetting to hit the record button because going viral at that age would have at least made the near-death experience somewhat worth it. We do dumb things while we’re young to live less precariously as adults, or at least that’s the hope. Some adults are still idiots.
I opened my cobble textured black planner, (I have a thing for minimalist stationary) and stared at all the things I didn’t get to check off from yesterday. There weren’t many people in the bookstore, but I recognized the gray-haired cashier with the limp. She must always be here on Tuesdays. There was a girl with skin dark like my dad’s, and a loud sophistication swaying from her orange summer dress. There was a familiarity to her, but I’ve never seen her before. There were other empty seats near and in plain sight, but she locked eyes with me.
I suppose my smile was synonymous to an invitation. It was the sort of smile that was full and warm, not passive and routinely. I’m not sure why I smiled at her like I was expecting to see her, maybe it was the way her dress hugged her body or the amethyst crystal on her neck that made me catch a vibe. I have a thing for beautiful women or living art if you will.
“Do you mind if I join you?” she asked.
Her accent had the same fragility as mine. Like her parents immigrated here, and although she only spoke English, she could trade accents unknowingly depending on if she was talking to someone in academia or an aunty she bumped into after Friday prayer at the mosque. A tongue that was always one with the people.
“Of course, you can!”
I was secretly happy she didn’t choose an empty table. I found the simple gesture of her approaching me really attractive. And I loved how unruly and curly her hair was.
(I sound like I was totally checking this girl out… & damn it I was! Women admire and study each other all the time, its fact. And for whatever feelings the inspecting ignites, to each their own.)
That’s all it took. Make eye contact, exchange smiles, and merge existences. The algorithm was simple and refreshing. I decided right then, that I’d make the effort to sit with strangers and connect effortlessly because there was never anything to lose if there was no expectation.
“Sir, can I sit here?”
“Yes, of course.”
I sat at the table with him. He looked about 35 and his thick beard was jet black. From his angular features, perhaps he was Persian, but I wasn’t too sure. He had circle-wired glasses that reminded me of a boy from one of my many high school flings (I was a player…kidding). His Iron maiden shirt was wrinkled and fit in a way that suggested he had it since junior high, which would’ve made him around 13, and that made perfect sense because Iron Maiden was really big in the early 80’s, and people like him must’ve joined the bandwagon in the 90’s.
The table was by the science and business bookshelves. I found it juxtaposing to have the two right near each other. But it made sense when I gave it a second thought, an unsettling sort of sense. For much of public knowledge and the sciences are dictated by those of power, those of the profitable business. I looked at it for a bit longer and found a more settling interpretation. I’m pursuing the sciences and my love does business. Maybe God wanted me to notice the two near each other for assurance.
The man with the wired frames read his thick book with fine print & I got to my own tasks. We minded our businesses in comfortable silence. No expectations, no awkwardness. The world was in order.
Peace and Blessings,