Monday, September 22, 2014

Half Full

Today’s wifi password is vagabond, lowercase letters handwritten in purple ink on a torn piece of notebook paper taped to the coffee bar.
The barista is 25 or 26, and the tattoos that cover her shoulders, legs and most of her back are visible through the thin straps of her short white tank, cut-off denim shorts and long, stained brown apron. She’s wearing dangling silver earrings, her dark hair pulled up in a messy bun. The drink orders – white mocha, Americano, China green tea – are as unique as the customers.
“Bye Rita,” she says to a woman with frizzy gray hair. “See you tomorrow.” Rita offers a back-handed wave, walks across the black-and-white checkered tile floor and pushes on the glass-paneled front door.
A young person – 30 pounds overweight – orange and yellow tattoos from elbows to wrists, sits alone on one of the four soda fountain bar stools. He (she?) has a mohawk the color of a cherry snow cone and is sipping raspberry iced tea.
The guy sleeping on the yellow couch near the door is wearing the same clothes as last Friday. The shirt swallows him, and the hairs on his head and face are entangled in a dirty web.
A tall, slim dark-haired man in a gray suit slumps in a chair near a window, but he doesn’t have time to look outside. He’s staring at a Dell laptop screen and is the only one wearing earbuds today.
The low music is stuck in the early 1970s, and a few conversations drift lazily above the tables.

A person, usually without a permanent home, who wanders from place to place.
What is most striking about this place is that nothing matches.  Every chair has been discarded from somewhere – the brown, armless from a kitchen, the high-backed fabric from a formal dining room, the small tan hard-backed from an elementary classroom, the green wheeled one from an office.
In one room, four formica tables have been shoved together and are lit by a combination of naked bulbs, a string of modern track lighting and an orange and yellow cone-shaped lamp hanging from the ceiling. The walls – depending on which direction you look – are green, red, yellow, white or orange and covered in outdated fliers, paintings of various sizes and intricate pencil drawings. Except for the area around the bar, the floors are two different kinds of worn wood.
I’m a semi-regular here, but I don’t have an assigned seat and this barista doesn’t know my order. Sometimes I stand at the bar and talk to other customers. Sometimes I stay really close to the door. But today, my back is against the wall. I’m sitting in a mustard yellow diner booth trying to avoid sticking to the duct tape that covers the cracks.

… having an uncertain or irregular course or direction.

Life would be so much simpler if everything matched, lined up, met expectations, worked out according to plan. But people grow up, leave, make mistakes, move, break up, fail, drop out, hit bottom, win the lottery, give up, change their minds, drift apart, die. We don’t get the opportunity to – as someone recently suggested to me – press Command/Z (Edit/Undo) on the keyboard.
I’ve never slept on a couch in a public place. I’m not a Suit. The only thing hippie about me is my hair. But I have many things in common with the other people here. And I’ve still got a little coffee left in my mug.

“For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.” Hebrews 13:14 (NLT)