The guys are here this morning - Bob, Bobby, Harold, Frank and Henry - the usual crew, minus Jim. They tell me Jim is involved with an organization that rescues dogs and he is on his way to North Carolina with a litter of puppies. They are here every morning and they all share a table and talk and laugh.
The first time I met them, I was sitting over at 'my' table. I could hear them talking about the government and the world and I just had to go over and introduce myself. They were just so fun and witty and clever and I felt drawn to them. They welcomed me warmly that first day1 and every single time since then, when they see me, they wave me over to join them. Sometimes I pull up a chair and sit with them for a few minutes, but most times I stay standing as we talk and joke and I leave them to carry on fixing all that is wrong with the world.
They tell me they have been meeting here for a long time and sometimes after this they go over to Panera Bread to meet with a different group of friends. They have an easy, relaxed nature and I envy their friendship and comfort with each other. I can totally picture them making the rounds bringing laughter and happiness wherever they go.
When I watch them now, and when I think back to them later on during the day, I find myself comforted by them. They are not mean or angry or cranky. They are friends who seem to enjoy each other, life and just being. With the pressure to 'do', it's almost impossible to believe that people can enjoy just 'being', but I get the feeling that they do.
When I was in CT, I would go to McDonalds each morning for coffee and to check my emails before I would go to be with mom. I was only there three consecutive mornings, but I saw the same people each time. There were four different tables of people sitting by themselves and there was no laughter.
Every once in a while, they would comment about something that was on the news, but no one moved from their seats. They talked, but they stayed where they were, sitting by themselves. They were connected but still maintained their distance. Perhaps they got comfort from their routine, but I couldn't help thinking about the vast difference between them and my B&N friends back home2.
My friends at Barnes and Noble so clearly get much satisfaction from their friendship and routine. But I find myself wondering if the people I saw at McDonalds get as much satisfaction from their daily routine as well. I think that perhaps they do and it just is not so visible and it exists on a different level.
I am a solitary person by nature. I enjoy, I appreciate and I love being with people, but I find my center and my strength by going inward. I seek contact with family, friends and sometimes strangers, but I have discovered that what gives me energy is quiet. Everyone is different and recharges by different means, and after much trial and error, I found that this is what works for me.
Lately, as I find myself seeking comfort and nurturing for my soul, I appreciate the interactions with strangers and I am glad that there are so many different types of people in the world. I am thankful for the happiness and joy that Bob, Frank and the others bring me and I also admire and respect the solitary nature of the folks at McDonalds.
We are all just people trying to navigate our way in this world and doing the best we can. No matter where my heart is, I hope I never lose the ability to recognize and appreciate that.
1. And I'm not sure, but I believe that Bobby was flirting with me. It's hard to say, it's been so long since I've been on the receiving end of a flirt.
2. I don't know how long I will have to live in SC before I say "home" easily.