It was freaking cold outside! Minus 17. Windchill something like minus 35. Unfortunately, the only table available at Eckerman’s café that afternoon was right in the path of the front door. Each time anyone entered or left, I braced myself for the spray of frigid air that would rush directly to my legs, find its way between my wool socks, my old, torn up long johns, and my four decades out of style brown cords, directly to my knees, where it would cling… like crazed owls, diging their icy talons into my flesh.
I was preoccupied with the perpetual coldness of my knees, and so all I heard of the conversation at the table by the wall was the last sentence, “My life is not so rich with kisses that I cannot accept one more.” That caught my attention and I looked up from the ice owls at my knees to see a 30-something mother and her 8-something son getting up to leave. The woman leaned across the table to allow her son to kiss the tip of her nose. Her face was the color of salted caramel, but her nose was rosy from the cold air. She spoke with an English accent, and so I was in love with her.
I watched as the two of them gracefully bundled themselves in scarves and hats and walked out the door. I didn’t feel any cold air.
In some parallel universe, I’m walking out with them, part of the family, instead of obsessing about the temperature of my knees. I’m focused on the two of them, on life, on giving and receiving kisses. Outward, instead of inward. Connected. Graceful. And we vacation in a quaint English village with an abandoned castle on a hill to explore….
As all of this was going through my head, the barista was trying to get my attention. They had my coffee drink ready for me. I got up to fetch it, thinking that I didn’t have time to drink it and make it back in time to watch my favorite Food Network show. I thought about asking for a to-go cup, but that became a mute point as I awkwardly pushed myself, covered with so many layers of winter clothing, back into my seat, spilling my coffee on my legs, killing the ice owls. Well, time to go, I guess. My coffee drenched corduroys were frozen by the time I got to my car. But they melted on the way home, the coffee seeping into my car seat where it would reside forever. Those coffee molecules went through so many changes, so quickly, I thought.
I got home and threw my pants in the laundry basket. My long johns were useless, all worn out and torn up like that, so I tossed them in the trash. I put on my ex-wife’s bathrobe and walked in to the living room to turn on my show. But I didn’t feel like watching TV. I thought about the woman and her son. Her name was probably something like “Lizbeth,” and her son would be “Jason,” or “Gregory.” They wouldn’t be wasting their afternoon watching TV. They would be picking up some fancy candies from a downtown sweets shop that I didn’t know about. Then, they would stop at her office to pick up a script. She was a poetry consultant for company that produced independent films about famous artists.
Then, they would be off, headed back home to her husband. He would have a gourmet meal prepared for them. I decided to start cooking right away, in case I was her husband. I got dressed in the most casual yet classy outfit I could put together – nothing older than 15 years, straightened up the house and began cooking beef bourguingnon. Surprisingly, I happened to not only have all of the ingredients on hand, but I knew the recipe. The house was warm and cozy, smelling delicious, and dinner was ready just as Lizbeth and Gregory walked in to tell me about their day.
Clicking this flower will take you to a few short poems: