Coffee House Musings

I have had, I think, the most interesting couple of days—days that taught me about relationship, and about connection. I’ve witnessed desperation, depravity, sadness, hopelessness, all in the span of 48 hours. To say I am emotionally exhausted is, perhaps, a perfectly understated description…hence the coffee. I’ve always argued that you never have to travel far to experience something new—something entirely original. So far, I’ve proved myself right.

At the homeless shelter last night, I sat with a man named Del. Or Dell. I asked him how to spell it and he said however I wanted to, which endeared me to him off the bat. I say the same thing. What’s in a name, anyway?

A rose by any other, he answers. And then he cried. He cried a lot and he said he cried both because he hated himself and because he was inspired by the beauty of a home cooked meal, made just for him. It was very hot, and he smelled very much like a homeless person in the heat. I didn’t mind it, though.

He told me that once, he had been in the military. He built bombs or, as he so phrased it, he “engineered the end of the world.” He says he carries that burden with him always. He strikes his hand against his forehead once or twice and even then a third time because he’s angry at himself. For the things he did for money. For the humanity that he forsook. I remind him, gently, that no one is so good that they cannot understand a sadness such as that. We are, each of us, quite wicked when we want to be.

He didn’t eat. He says he never eats and I tried to fill his plate for him but he declined and when I stepped away, for just a moment, he was gone. Like a whisper. I suppose that he felt restored enough to wander on.

I sat with John, in his silly Donald Trump hat, as he laid out upon the table a list of government conspiracies that all seemed pretty viable to me. He wore sunglasses, and so I couldn’t see his eyes when we spoke across the table. I think a man like that does a thing like that on purpose. John likes to be a mystery. But when I shook his hand and introduced myself and asked his name he startled just a bit. Surprised. And then kindness began oozing forth from the hard shell of the man because I suppose he thought that I would never ask. That I wouldn’t want the sound of his name across my lips. That he wasn’t worthy of such things and to watch a face brighten is a beautiful thing to behold.

Today, I have to write about today because my mind still reels with the strangeness of it. A regular at my workplace had a seizure. He’s a diabetic and I know this because I collect the stories of the people in my bar. I’m nosy. I want to feel what the world does and so I ask a few too many questions. Or so my mother always said.

Because I just finished my EMT course I knew what to do and I held my hands around the crown of his head and rolled him to his side. Sat there with him. I’m wearing this dumb little skirt and all I keep thinking every few moments is I hope it hasn’t ridden too far up my ass but his cheek is resting on my thigh and so I just sit still. He’s bitten his tongue, and for a moment I think that he is dying in my arms and a thing like that confuses a person. It will make you want to cry. And then you realize that you’re far too dramatic for your own good and so you get to work and do the thing that every human must must must do—be there. Just be there.

I’ve been there for a lot of people over the last couple of days because a lot of people have been there for me. Because I think, not only that we ought to, but that we must. You don’t have to travel far for adventure. You only need to reach out to the ones nearest to you—their stories hold entire lifetimes of brilliant accolades and, yes, so much sadness. We all do. Again, what is life without connection? I drive that point to death upon this blog but I will hold to it for many years to come. I relish every person I have collected—I savor their stories, I let them sit upon my tongue like lozenges or sweet lemon drop candies, the ones that never melt. I do so love this world. And loving, above all else, is the greatest of adventures.

29 thoughts on “Coffee House Musings

  1. I for one am really glad that you write about these events. These persons, I mean. Events merely happen. Persons often change us. Years ago I got from a book an idea how writing can help us in chance circumstances similar to yours here. It was easy to remember because so succinct. “Only connect.” It was E.M. Forster’s guiding phrase, a kind of motto that kept him writing (and thereby living more fully, I believe). It is clear that you live that idea too. And you tell about these persons with respect, almost reverence. Keep telling.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you. Thank you for understanding this. I continue to argue that all we have are moments, moments of human connection. It is so important to me. We’re so beautiful. I love to take these times to acknowledge that. And yes, events happen, but it is people who change us. I do agree. You, have a beautiful, beautiful week. ❤ Go change someone. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I wouldn’t say that I am any better than anyone else. Yeah, I like to think I am, but that’s a crock of shit. I’m not. Well and truly, we’re all just as bad as the next. Don’t think I don’t have to force myself to be good, every moment of every day. And don’t think that I don’t fail at it, every moment of every day. We all have a bit of sunshine inside of us, despite the torrential downpour of cruelty that rains within our spirits. We are our own worst enemies. We are the very reason that goodness seems so limited. I am the very reason too, at times. Writing reminds me to be better than myself. I can promise you that you’re better than you think you are as well. Hell, the whole world is. We just need to see it better.
      Have the most beautiful weekend. Keep on loving. ❤ We'll get there.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Shayleene, what a wonderful post. Meeting people where they are isn’t easy in this world. We are constantly exposed to widespread judgments of people who struggle to simply be here. I know that feeling well. Conformity requires people to behave a certain way. Ugh. You…you in your open hearted way meet all of those souls, even the one who is ill…where they are. Bless you for,being sincerely and authentically you, and reminding us what is possible and essential. 💛

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “When I stepped away, for just a moment, he was gone. Like a whisper.” “That I wouldn’t want the sound of his name across my lips. That he wasn’t worthy of such things and to watch a face brighten is a beautiful thing to behold.” “For a moment I think that he is dying in my arms and a thing like that confuses a person.” “their stories hold entire lifetimes of brilliant accolades”

    What a lovely taste of writing you have given us. What a meal.

    Then there’s that closing: “I savor their stories, I let them sit upon my tongue like lozenges or sweet lemon drop candies, the ones that never melt. I do so love this world. And loving, above all else, is the greatest of adventures.” It just gives me a big Wow, and I know there’s a lot of bad writing in this world. But there’s also a lot of good writing. Yours is some mighty fine writing. And most of all, you give me hope.

    I read your piece several times and I wanted to cry because it was so beautiful. Thank you, my friend. It is a real pleasure to know you and read your words. I gotta tell you there are times when they take my breath away.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jerry Budnick

    Dear Shayleene,
    You writings are thought provoking, heartwarming, and a true pleasure to read. Thank you for sharing your heart and mind with us! Your humility and generosity come through loud and clear.
    May your heart be filled with love and joy, your mind continue to grow, and I hope you will continue to share your thoughts and heart through your writings with us!

    Liked by 1 person

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