I was waiting in line at the Java Hut the other morning, as I do almost every day. It's my guilty pleasure, not as fine as Peete's, but that's afternoon coffee. The Java Hut line is a good
place to do several things, depending on how many cars are ahead of me. Lipstick and lipgloss are good to do there, it's very difficult to get the line on my top lip right when the car is moving, never mind the safety hazard. Checking email, texts or facebook on either electronic device can be done as well, or I can mess with what I want to listen to on my iPod. For some reason they still haven't come up with a good way to bookmark where you left of in an audio-book, and I happen to be listening to a series of three short stories narrated by the same hot-sounding English guy so
it's hard to tell if I'm starting where I left off last time. I usually have time to decide whether or not I'm going to listen to book or the Gay radio station (and by Gay I mean Gay, it's called Out Q and it's on Serius, lots of fabulous programming and my favorite political talk-show host Michelangelo Signorile.)
The other morning I seemed to have more time than usual though, I had handled all of those tasks and there was still a car in front of me that must have ordered drinks that required the beans to be grown and roasted especially for them. I looked over at the parking lot that used to contain my favorite grocery but is now a whole store devoted to "wine and spirits." This is Napa, I guess we need a whole giant building to contain all the choices available.
My eyes entered an experience mid-scene: A girl was running toward a young man and he picked her up and whirled her around in that way that made her feet fly out behind her a bit, and always freaks me out when someone tries to do it to me because I am certain that I am too fat for it. Then an older man joins them, and the men hug with much back slapping, stopping to pull back and look at each other and then more hugging. This was a scene I could fully understand in an airport or train station, but it baffled me in the parking lot of the Liquor Warehouse.
It was obviously the young man they were there to greet with such joy. Where had he been? Why did they choose that parking lot for their reunion? After the men finished hugging the girl hugged him some more and kissed him as though it had been a very long time since she had seen him. I really wanted to know the story, maybe wanted to steal a bit of it to write about (which, obviously, I have done.) After that little vignette I became fascinated by the number of people I pass every day, singly and in pairs, all driving to places for their own reasons. One thought I had was that there were so many single drivers and they were all headed in the same direction, why weren't they riding together. I had this thought alone in my car because I am them too.
Then I was thinking about how much people seem to be impatient and in a hurry, when I would bet that only a small percentage of them even want to be where they are going. Scowling faces, singing faces, apathetic faces, all in a line heading back to their own particular ant-hills. For an intense moment I wished I knew each of their stories from "Once upon a time,"
until I saw them pass me on the road. Then the enormity of just how many excuses or triumphs, pains or accomplishments I would need to absorb to actually know all of them. And I thought that maybe I don't care so much, and here I am almost to work and I have a big day.
Hundreds of thousands of people passing through and around each other, only occasionally bumping their stories into one another. There are planes filling the skies with hundreds of thousands more, all headed to their separate destinations in the same places. There are moments when I think of just how many people there really are and it gives me emotional vertigo. I would like to think I am the most important of them all, and each one of them probably feels the same way.
I would really like to know that one little story that happened in the parking lot of the Liquor Warehouse though. That one was jam-packed with joy and anticipation finally fed. I could see that love from across the street.