The voices carry over the constant din of the not-kitchen in the Barnes and Nobles cafe. A group of students sit nearby, not my students, but definitely a familiarity of existence based on their clothing choices and the conversations about We Were Liars and the top ten books at the public library. I pause to love the fact that these teens are spending their Saturday talking about the top ten books at the public library.
You are sitting across from me, searching through home magazines and books for the promise of distraction that comes with dreams of remodeling our tiny home. The same home that we have always had a three to five year plan to leave, in search of a small homestead in the outskirts of our smallish mid-sized city. The three to five year plan has persisted for the past almost seventeen years. I wonder how long it will continue.
The computer battery blinks at me because I have dropped below 5%…clearly the starts and stops of the half dozen writing pieces have zapped what little energy was stored in the machine. I can’t help but think about the clear parallel between the resources in my laptop and the resources in me.
A woman has sat down directly behind me and is loudly lecturing her companion on the need to be quiet and not distract the other patrons. Her companion is barely audible, but she is loud with her admonitions to be quiet and with her actions. She is moving chairs, adjusting the table that is already too close to my chair, all the while continuing to explain the necessity of being quiet, like a library. The disturbance is enough to make me smile and try to catch your eye, hoping to share the irony of the moment.
We are here, escaping into a brief vacation from our life in a pre-pandemic tradition of afternoon coffee at B&N. It’s all the same as it was in the past, just not quite. The kids are home alone, not with your parents for babysitting. The patrons are distracting and worthy of quiet side-eye snickers, although my amusement is your annoyance. The coffee burns my tongue and the books are pushed aside in favor of my computer. I try to capture this Slice and know that the real story is just out of reach.