It is a lovely spring morning in Bethesda, Maryland, and I am crying at Starbucks.
I was supposed to be at work an hour ago, between the metro commute and the first cup of coffee, but along the lines of “a morning just like any other morning” I found myself unable to move, and incapable to stop the crying, as if I was a fountain dressed in Calvin Klein clothes.
As I sit there, crying, I space out to the conversation of the people who are sitting next to me. They are pouring their hearts out trashing one of their workmates, or business partners, and the word “business” seems to occupy their entire world, as if their world was just that sweet job and that sweet paycheck that will follow.
I grab the City Paper that I picked up on my way to the metro, take out a ball point pen out of my back pack and start writing: “It is thursday morning in Bethesda, Maryland, and I am crying at Starbucks. I overhear the conversation of a man and a woman sitting next to me…”. I immediately regret writing about this, pick my things up, throw the paper in the recycle bin and march towards the bathroom.
As I wait in line, I dry my face-wipe out my tears with my jacket sleeve and lean on the wall. A woman dressed in sports clothes is standing in front of me, her Chanel bag gleaming, as if the two C’s didn’t mean all that much but a promise of luxury and status only a vague 10% could maybe afford. We wait for the Women’s bathroom door to open, but it doesn’t, so she shily opens it and then turns around to apologize. “I thought there was someone in there” she tells me, but I can only think of her delicate pink lipstick and baseball cap, her bleached blond hair and yoga pants all composed around her body as if they were ornaments atop a carefully planned christmas tree. The Chanel bag is queen and I see her walking away after using the restroom.
Starbucks is full of things I can’t afford, like coconut water, recycled french presses and protein lunch boxes. I step outside, but, as if the place was taking me hostage, I fall apart on a chair over the sidewalk and start crying again, discretely over my black table, until its no longer discreet: Snot covers my left hand and I look away, decided to exalt my current state by adopting the expression of (what I think it would be) the distant cousin of Marcus Aurelius.
“I am like an installation: Millennial Crying Outside Starbucks. I can’t stop crying.” I text my boyfriend, who loyally answers back “Aw, hon, I’m sorry.” A year and six months have turn this man from an almost fascist hermit to a sweet and caring fascist hermit, and I wonder about the pet name “honey”, that he applies so carefully to our dialogue, conveying I am sweet as honey, most likely ignoring I feel like something that has been left at the stove for too long, like coffee that boiled only to be put again inside a microwave by some lazy asshole.
“Let them see what becomes of the defeated individuals of the middle class, who will most likely venture into a deep emotional hell hole… Individuals who devoutly won’t stop at anything until they have stared into the abyss for the 15th time, and the abyss stares back…” My boyfriend interrupts my inner monologue with the ghost of a homeless Nietzsche, and I turn back to my phone.
“What is it that you want to do that you feel you aren’t doing?”
“Studying.” I answer. “Being part of the human race with some degree of fulfillment.” I add, matter of factly, before crying some more. “I am being selfish.” I type, as I launch into a “I just want to be like everyone else” teenager sob story, and the ramifications of fruitless and repetitive job after repetitive job, and the realities of being an immigrant with a failed marriage, a dead father, a friend who committed suicide and a bed inside a kitchen on a dusty apartment in Columbia Heights.
“I’m queer. Like Oscar Wilde kind of queer, only he had money, and he was actually queer.” I conclude, as I leave my chair to pick up some paper napkins inside the shop. I blow my nose on the way to the metro station and my phone runs out of battery. It gives me a faint warning before fading away into a dead black screen.
Being part of the human race. The words shine like a ship that has sailed to a better, distant, Lothlórien kind of realm, and I walk past the Duke Ellington Bridge towards Mt. Pleasant. As I approach my building, I see one of the neighbors sitting outside the entrance with his dog, an incredible oversized hybrid of poodle and Giant Schnauzer. Both owner and dog seem in peace, looking at each other and taking turns to lower their heads, sunbathing, as if there was no other better place to be or any other thing to do but just exist here, sitting together under the sun.
I pick up their invisible crumbs of fellowship and walk inside the building. Once in my apartment, I plug in my phone and sit back on the bed, waiting for my boyfriend to answer my last message.