I gave myself a treat yesterday and stopped in to get a cappuccino at one of my favorite neighborhood cafes.
As I was sitting there, an older woman (my, how my definition of “older” changes over the years) slowly walked in with her cane, walked up to the counter to order, and sat down at the table beside me to wait. I had been on my phone up until then, and decided to put it away and simply be there and be more available, should she want to engage in conversation.
I did not want to intrude. I can also be a bit shy, so I simply sat there, feeling open, looking around, sipping my coffee. At one point, she looked my way, and I commented on how her food looked good. She mentioned that she bought herself this egg and bacon sandwich once a week. I responded that yes, we needed to treat ourselves.
I watched her (hopefully not too obviously) as she seemed to enjoy her meal, then brushed the crumbs off the table, and quietly drank her coffee. I wondered what her story was, what her life had and is like, did she live alone…so many questions. I felt that she was comfortable being there and I didn’t feel like conversation may have been anything that she wanted right then. I wanted to be open, and to also respect her boundaries. So I sat there a bit longer than I intended. And when I needed to leave, I made a joke about how coffee goes through me quickly as I got up. She pointed behind her to show me where the restroom was. We women, I think, have to know where the restrooms are located – especially after we reach a “certain age”. And I left, wishing her a good day. I made a note of the day of the week that it was, so that perhaps I might stop in that particular day and time again and have her begin to see me more regularly and perhaps we could strike up a conversation.
I looked at her, and I saw what may be a version of my own future self. She clearly was an independent woman, alone, and out and about. She walked slowly with her cane, but she walked. Will that be me? I live alone now, consider myself independent (and am grateful for my health and ability to be so every single day). I will continue to get more lines, more age related changes, more evidence of the passage of years and of my life. I love my solitude, and also cherish relationships with depth. I have no family that I keep in contact with, as they are quite far away and I didn’t grow up with them nor do I speak their language.
I realize now that I was sitting quietly beside her not only to be open to having contact, but to keep learning how to sit with the possible future version of myself and to become more comfortable with that, should I be blessed enough to live longer on this earth. I need to befriend that future version that may come to be, and open a dialogue with her inside me. Others may or may not approach me, but I must keep the conversation going with myself and not become invisible to me. I will still be there, with my story and my history. I will still be alive. And I can still treat myself to things and places that I enjoy. I can still claim and take my space, even if others may find me invisible. And maybe someday someone may sit quietly beside me at times, and simply be with me in that space that we share at that moment in time.