by Sara LeVee Safyan
A lot of my adult decisions are based on convenient parking. A lot of my non-adult-like decisions too. It’s almost Neil Armstrong-ian, you know. One small parking spot for my convenience, one big life-altering decision for my life.
I would say it’s a pattern, but that would be attributing too much to patterns.
Convenience has a lot to do with it. Weather has a lot to do with it. Hunger has a lot to do with it. And my decision-making process has a lot to do with it. So, it wasn’t just convenient parking on the corner of Asbury and Smithfield. It was that it was raining, I was hungry, and I just couldn’t think. I didn’t want to think about it.
The convenient coffee shop on that corner, next to the convenient spot on that corner, near the life-altering decision around that corner, is one of my favorites. And I don’t say that just because my sister works there. I say it because my mom owned it. She sold it a few years ago. Too much work, her back hurt all the time, and other such excuses. But I know it was because of the business around the corner. The life-altering decision making one. I’m almost sure of it.
It’s as if my sister was made to wear her apron. She doesn’t know it though. She just goes about her business, flirting with the customers to get that extra tip. She and her boyfriend are saving up for a car.
“You decided yet?”
My sister hastily places a mug in front of me and absentmindedly pours coffee from the pitcher she’s been carrying around for a few hours. She doesn’t even have to look when she pours the coffee. She’s glancing around the room, making sure no one’s listening.
“You don’t have too much time.”
She pats my back gently on her way up to the counter, taking out slips of paper from her pocket as she goes.
It always astounds me that so many people are in a cafe at 11 AM on a Tuesday. With one hand a mom is shaking a stuffed blue elephant in front of her toddler and with the other she’s scrolling through Instagram. A man sits at the table opposite her. He’s dressed in a navy suit and brown shoes and his eyes never move from the door. Whether he’s waiting for a date or a job interview is hard to tell. An older woman, a few rows behind him, types on an old Mac laptop, one of the chunky ones, stopping every few minutes to follow a car driving past. Two college looking boys sit at the corner table with books and notes spread all around them, frantically scanning pages and pages searching for an answer. I hope they find it.
My sister comes back and places a blueberry muffin on the table in front of me. They’re my favorite. I tell her to say thank you to Francine, our chef. The cafe’s chef.
The minutes tick by on the big clock over the counter. Each hand silently rushing me as it moves around. My sister shuffles some glasses around, helps a customer, smiles at me as if begging for an answer.
The residue of coffee at the bottom of my mug reflects back a few of my eyelashes. I almost catch a glimpse of my eye but the light changes, and it’s all gone. I feel my heartbeat quicken. I think I know now.
You can check out Sara’s work on her website.