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  • Jay

People, Watching.

The people are in

their element

blind to the world beyond them

Enveloped by the

sounds of life

in the sweet

of the brief


that surrounds them.

Coincidentally, this particular February had brought about some of the most beautiful weather Chicago had ever seen. Activists scream global warming, but I’m just grateful that God favored us enough to allow for the evasion of another grueling winter.

Selfish, but true. My deepest apologies offered up to Mother Earth.

The heavy brown door with the golden handles swung open and the breeze of the 60 degree day kissed the apples of my cheeks pressed in Milani cream blush. I took a deep breath of the fresh air and thanked God quietly for sparing my near bald tires another couple months.

“Order for Jay!”

My moment of gratitude interrupted.

Springing up from my seat, I quickly smoothed the subtle wrinkles now forming against my pinstriped blouse, and made my way to the counter. The barista was a lively Latina. Brunette. About twenty something or so, with big brown dow eyes that felt like the literal representation of windows to the soul. Strong eye contact, a smile too perfect to miss, and dimples that’d give Lauren a run for her money.

“First time here?" She spoke softly. "I know all of my customers and you don’t look familiar.”

“Oh. Yeah, TikTok told me this place was a must see so… Here I am I guess!”

My introversion can never let me be great in casual conversation. I felt my voice doing that sing songy thing it does when I feel like I’m being awkward.

“Here I am I guess?” I thought to myself. “She knows you don’t get out much and it’s only been 10 seconds.” I quickly dismissed the intrusive thoughts and refocused.

“Oh, a first timer! A beautiful thing. One sip of that and I guarantee I’ll be seeing you again. Lo is our og barista and your drink of choice is her favorite to make.”

She flashed that million dollar smile, slid a straw across the counter, and pointed to the stand across from us where the condiment organizer rested.

She was right about one thing. If this Lo had managed to outdo Jasper at my local Starbucks, I’d honor my vow to do away with that costly place for good. I’d spent my rainy day savings on fancy tea there more times than I could count. Thankfully, the rain has been missing in action as of late.

After grappling with the napkins tucked into the napkin holder, I arrived back at my nook in the corner of the dainty little Pilsen coffee shop.

The first sip always felt like the thick of a worship service. You know... The part where the choir was so compelling, you'd swear God himself was present in the pew beside you.

I liked my matcha green and extra frothy. Today I felt like living life on the wild side: a dash of vanilla did just the trick.

The choir inside me rose up in agreement.

I settled in and scanned the space. It felt homey in here. The lights were dim, allowing the sun’s natural light to gleam through the full length windows. Camel colored leather couches accentuated by cloth pillows with various geometric shapes strategically placed beneath featured street art from some of the city’s finest artists. A quaint little jukebox in the corner carried us to 1960, when Nancy blessed listening ears with “Guess Who I Saw Today”.

It was everything the comments online said it’d be.

TikTok has been suggesting spaces that encourage life beyond my home for over a year now and yet I always manage to find my way back to where it’s most comfortable. Hidden in the shadows of the most vibrant moments in life.

Hearty laughs from the couple adjacent made it hard to focus on my overflowing inbox, so I willingly accepted the opportunity to be in business that didn’t concern me.

A stunning young brown skinned black woman, mid to late thirties, with ginger colored hair and elite bone structure, was dressed as if she had Fran Fine on speed dial. Impeccable taste in clothing and men evidently, for she was accompanied by an equally stunning black man. Same age range, caramel complexion, muscular build, football catching hands, and waves that swam for miles.

He looked at her as if he were completely enamored; watching her softly as she sipped her coffee, and again as she adjusted her thick hair behind the yellow diamonds in her small ears. She was giddy. A confident woman who commanded the attention of those around her, but melted like warm butter under his gaze. He pulled her chair, wiped cream from her lips, fixed her hair when the breeze made a mess of it, and caressed her hands whenever there was a lull in conversation.

It was a beautiful thing to watch. Love, that is. It’s rare that you witness the actions in real time. I saw how everything beyond the two of them stopped and they held that space there together.

For a moment, I found myself fully invested in the romcom that played out in front of me. She was his gift from God, and he knew it.

I wonder when he knew it was her? I wonder when she knew it was him? I wonder if she’d ever been heartbroken and if so, what made her comfortable enough to try love again? I wonder when I’ll be comfortable enough to try love again? I wonder... well... never mind.

The heavy brown door with the golden handles swung open and the breeze of the 60 degree day returned to kiss the apples of my cheeks.

Happy new patrons found their way inside.

Gently settling myself from what could have been a public moment of grief; I took a sip of matcha, jumped back into my overflowing inbox, and hummed Nancy’s riffs with each keystroke.

I don’t know that I’m ready for nooks in coffee shops just yet, but I’m proud of the fact that I tried.

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