Coffeeshop Confessionals: The Nordstrom’s eBar.

I suppose since the eBar is associated with Nordstrom’s, that it is easy to expect a quirky, popular mix of music and an almost disgustingly perfect array of customers.  Still, spending an afternoon writing from a main-stream coffee shop proves to be an intereting self-reflection on how I project what I am currently going through onto the variety of people around me.  Most everyone is ordering an iced chai which is not surprising for Utah and this 102 degree whether.  I am surprised that no one is calling out “skinny latte” of any kind based on the number of lanky women I am surrounded by.

There is a woman that is, to me, as plain as I am and to no surprise, doing exactly what I am doing.  She is writing professional, business documents while hardly even looking at her computer.  Her eyes wonder as she thinks of what to say – taking in what is going on around her without concentrating on it.  She has glasses, a complete lack of chin and the curse of a chubby face, always jowl laiden.  As I notice this, I notice she really is a near mirror image to me.  We even both slept in this morning as you can tell by the lack of finite hair brushing and the quick, under-curled bun we are both wearing.  There are differences however.  She is drinking likely the healthiest drink she could find on the menu, a smoothie.  It is a large so she intends on staying for a long time while I didn’t even intend on being here at all.  She pays less attention to what is happening around her and more attention to her work.  This is likely because she is far more professional than I am and worries a lot – worries about the weather, worries about her appearance, worries if her work will be received well and done on time.  She’s wearing a dress that is too small in the shoulders, has a cheap zipper but was likely overpriced because pricing was the only definitive factor in whether or not it was something she should purchase in order to fit in with everyone else at work.  On the contrary, I am wearing a shirt I have owned and loved for over a decade, shorts and although we both get to work during our own personal time wherever we would like, I do not have to go into an office and when I do, I get to walk, bring my drink of choice and wear whatever I find fitting… literally.

Most everyone else is a variety of mother’s and children just walking through because the kids are begging for a drink and the mom agreed to the idea only if she could have the kind of drink she wants.  Coffee is sometimes the hardest substance to abuse during stressful days.  It’s not yet 5:00 anywhere when you’re a mother.  There’s no time.  No time for anything in regard to yourself so you cut corners and make decisions that please you when you can – like dragging your kids shopping and forcing them to find a pleasing treat at a place that is slightly less adult than the local bar.  The kids look like magazine children or the kind that come in picture frames.  Their hair is perfect.  They cry when they drop a cookie and they are the only children here at the mall that are not allowed to play in the fountains.  Yet, nothing about this bother’s them as if they were born into the idea of feeling privileged over what it is they are not allowed to do.  Their parents are wearing the same variety of Anne Taylor or True Religion, depending on age and whether or not they are meeting their husbands here.

Not too out of the ordinary for sitting just outside of a city-based Nordstroms is a girl, probably my age.  She’s sitting outside and therefore I already know that she is probably insane.  It’s 102 degrees and there’s nothing like that kind of weather to induce passive-aggressive behavior.  She has red hair and it is cut exactly like mine except that her hair is perfect.

Hold on, I can hardly see her anymore because there is a couple that is just here for a drink.  Just here because they are spending time together and this seemed like the place to go.  Like I said, it’s not yet 5:00 and dinner plans are still pending.  It is too early in the day for drinks and too much of a Thursday rather than a Friday or a Saturday night.  There are no excuses except maybe the excuse that they don’t drink.  Maybe that is why they are having tea, under the illusion that it has less caffeine than anything else on the menu.  But there is something sweet about this couple.  They’re older than me – not by a lot but still probably old enough to have been my parents as teenagers.  They are lovingly laughing.  He winks at her.  They hold hands across the table.  She seems happy but nervous.  She’s constantly tapping her feet and looking over at the children in line with their mother’s.  I wonder what she’s thinking.  Does she have children of her own or is she hoping this is the guy she can have that life with?  She has that sort of look in her eyes like she is equating the situation to something… personal.

Oh they’ve left.  That was quick.  Maybe they thought I was starring at them.  But I still look a lot like the professional woman in the over-priced dress.  I can type as if I am saying something truly important and look around as if I am not taking in anything directly around me.

The red head is moving.  Why do those girls always have read hair?  Oh, no wonder she’s drop dead gorgeous.  She’s a manager at Nordstrom’s.  I can tell because she has a daring sense of fashion – blue cropped pants, 50’s style heels, tattoos on both feet, a polka dot sweater vest and a white poplin shirt.  I can also tell by the walkie talkie that is placed on her back side.  She had perfect bone structure – the kind of cheek bones and shoulder blades that any woman covets.  Oh if I were lucky enough to have a jaw line like that!  I have to live a distinct life of anorexia to even find evidence of a jaw bone.  That makes me inherently German.  She is something else, more Scandinavian but American-born delicate.  I want to be just like her but I loathe red locks and I can’t find any real purpose in spending money on a wardrobe; although my ward robe is quite expensive, it is not in any terms expansive.

The hours have gone by quickly here and it seems like I have done a lot, except I haven’t when you compare it to what I have left to do.  It’s hard to write about business when business is not what’s on your mind.  In fact, it’s hard to do any sort of assigned writing.  Every time I try, I just want to work on a long term project that I have not yet finished like digital scrapbooking or converting my past life of emails and blogs into a riveting memoir.  I’ll get there.  I’ll eventually learn how to juggle what it is I want with what is necessary.  In fact, that is somewhat why I find myself here at this eBar instead of elsewhere.

I was on my way to a small, local shop with a distinct lack of Air Conditioning.  I was still on my way, despite the temperature and I was going to enjoy something iced like most everyone else except that I would insist on something strongere than a chai.  I suppose my initial desire to go somewhere with an outside makes me just as crazy as the red headed Nordstrom’s manager.  I will admit that.  I will admit my own passive-aggressive nature combined with illusions of spontaneity.  I am here because I simply did not want to go any further.  I gave up.  I decided the miles were too long and that I would be more comfortable in the familiarity of a dark café with hard-working air conditioning.  So I came here.  It was close.   I came here because it was close to home, close to him and somehow it became the subconscious representation of my decision to want to stay close while placing myself… away.  I don’t care that the space is unfamiliar.  I don’t care that it is dark.  But as I sat here hours ago trying to control the fear as it fell from my face, from my eyes, and surrounded my own attempt at a jaw-line before falling one by one to my hands, to my shirt that I used as a napkin, my Mom would have been furious with me for using a white shirt in such a way.  I am here because I don’t know where else to be and I felt happy to be some place so unfamiliar that I did not worry about running in to anyone I might know as I battled my own outward display of emotions.  I shut it down.  I put it away.  I got straight to work and I noticed in my own regard, like everyone else here, how the world revolves around me according to how I feel about myself.

The professional look-alike has a new friend – someone she didn’t know before now who walked in with a Louis Vuton iPhone case strapped to her ear, chattering through her blonde locks.  Professional-girl is happy to be talked to yet all she can say is, “Really?” and “Wow.”  She is so surprised by the encounter she can’t seem to think of what else to say or any questions to ask.  I know this because I am like this.  I know this because she falls silent if the conversation ever dives between sentences or thoughts and she seems eager to hear the girl talk about herself.  The blonde doesn’t care though.  She keeps standing up mid-sentence and walking away.  She’s flippant and forgetful.  First she needs a napkin then she needs a sugar.  She’s showing pictures of her dog on her cell phone background.  She’s likely to be as forgetful about this conversation as she is about her coffee accessories.  She is also wearing a bun, but she did hers.  She looked it up on Pinterest and perfected the way she wears her bangs with a purposefully messy up-do.  It’s not that I hate her for this.  It’s that I hate that she is dropping in on someone who is busy and seemingly caring about what it is they choose to do with her life, but before anyone can talk she is up again – oh, another napkin.  They’re likely to become best friends.  At least, professional-girl will think so but that’s not how it works.  Professional-girl likes her drink frozen and fruit filled.  The blonde is here to eat a parfait and only finish half of it.  Little do they know that these very idiosyncrasies are what represent the differences that cause their friendship to not work out.  Or maybe, just maybe, that’s more of a reflection on my part of what I am going through.  The kind of reflection that makes me associated with the gentleman that just sat next to me – foreign, single, older, reformed and all he wants in life is a straight, black coffee.  He’s here for himself.  He finds himself here much like I do, through a last minute decision.  He waits for the blackness to cool and I… I haven’t ordered yet.  I haven’t decided yet where to belong and if it is here.  I have made no commitment, no purchase.  I am the girl who brought an energy drink to a coffee bar.  Ludicrous.

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