Still Life Sunday: Caffeine Rush

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11 Caffeine Rush

He usually ordered a cappuccino at the café. Sometimes he felt for something sweet and chose a cinnamon bun to go with it but mostly he opted for a caffeine rush rather than a sugary one.

As the café was extremely popular and almost always the tables were taken, he had gotten used to sitting at the long but narrow table by the window. It was the place for the lonely coffee drinkers, focused long-distance workers, for the inspired artists. He considered himself being a mix of all three.

Ever since he had picked this small café as his favorite and had become a regular there, he had sat at the long table by the window. This was, according to his subjective opinion, the best place a visitor could pick at this particular café. Because from here one could observe anything and anyone, both inside and outside.

And this was the reason why he kept coming to this café for his cappuccino and the occasional cinnamon bun. He enjoyed watching the people, following their body language, trying to read their lips and scribbling down little notes about their behavior in his blue notebook.

Picks his nose when he thinks no one’s watching, said one of the notes.

Has a crush on her company, easy to tell by the way she keeps touching her hair. He, however, doesn’t seem to have a clue, said the other one.

Walks in a way that seems confident, like he knows where he’s going. But the expression on his face tells a different story, told a note about an observation he had made from the street.

These notes he scribbled down were just a way to observe and remember the different behaviors of people. How they talked, walked, looked and sounded was very intriguing to him, making him excited and more conscious about his surroundings.

Because after he had finished his cappuccino (and occasionally, the cinnamon bun) he stood up, took his jacket, nodded a thanks to the café workers and left. On the street, he took out his blue notebook from his bag, reading his notes again and picking his favorite observation of the day.

Seems confident, but at the same time has the need to take a quick glimpse at herself in every window she passes. Maybe to make sure she can and should feel confident about the way she looks?

This seemed like a behavior too good to pass by so he took a moment standing on the street. He closed his eyes and tried to find the feeling of confidence he had seen only moments before. When he felt good about himself, when he was certain that he looked ravishing in his simplistic brown costume, he began walking down the street, an air of confidence surrounding him. And at every shop window he passed, he glimpsed at himself so quickly that he was almost certain no one else saw. He still looked awesome, he was certain of it, so he kept on walking in that self-reliant manner until the next shop window came. A glimpse, a convinced smile, and he walked onward.

This kept on for who knows how long – he did it as long as he enjoyed it, until he got the feeling that he knew what was going on in that girl’s mind from whom he originally had copied the behavior from.

After that, depending on the mood and the weather of the day, he returned home or picked up his notebook and chose another behavior to imitate. This was, according to his subjective opinion, one of the best hobbies he had and one of the funniest ways to make time go by.

The weather was almost sunny that day and the wind warm so he opened his notebook again, this time at random, and picked the first behavior he saw.

A man, extremely busy, can’t seem to avoid bumping into things and people. Does apologize, luckily, but seems a little bit confused by everything.

He smiled, closed his notebook and put it back in his bag. Then he closed his eyes for a while, searching for the feeling of restlessness inside him. He opened his eyes and started walking, speeding up until he bumped into an elderly lady. He suppressed the smile that tried to find its way to his lips, and did his best to keep the expression on his face somewhat confused.

“I’m very sorry, I hope you’re alright!”

The lady was already and he kept on walking. Yes – this was definitely one of the funniest ways to make days pass.

Still Life Sunday: Theory of Absence

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9 Theory of Absence

They sat in a circle, all in chairs of hard, red fabric, sitting on the same chairs they had sat on in Spring, on the last day of school. It was the beginning of Fall and the first day of school.

It had been twelve weeks since they last saw each other. The summer months had flown by as quickly as they always did but somehow the days and weeks had still left their mark on almost everyone.

Those who adored the sun weren’t shy to show their tan or the freckles on their skin. Someone’s legs were colored with bruises, telling the tales of adventures in the mountains or at sea. And a few had an air of growth, sitting more straight than usual, as if the summer had made them somewhat wiser.

But one chair was empty. Everyone knew who was missing but no one asked any questions. Not yet – it could be that the person was running late. Then the door handle was pushed down, catching everyone’s attention. The eyes followed the door that opened, but quickly the gaze was turned back to the circle. It was only their teacher who arrived.

“It’s so nice to see everyone again”, the teacher said, walking to the desk and looking around the classroom. Her gaze went from one face to the other. “But there’s one of you missing. Where’s Peter?”

Silence took over the room. They all looked at each other, then at the empty chair, the gaze moving from the chair to the floor and from there up the ceiling. No one seemed to have an answer to the question. Until – –

“I heard a rumor that he moved to the North”, someone said. She didn’t meet anyone’s gaze, keeping her own fixed on the floor.

“The North?” the teacher asked suspiciously, lifting from her bag a blue folder heavy with paperwork. “I haven’t received any information of that kind. Where did you hear that?”

The girl shrugged, clearly wanting to take a step back from the conversation.

“How wasn’t I informed?” the teacher asked, pointing her question at no one. “That’s unheard of. No message of any kind. As if he was swallowed by the Earth…”

And so the first hour of their first day went – the lecture that was planned for the day was put on hold, at least until their teacher managed to find answers to her questions about Peter’s absence. In the meantime, they all waited in silence, only sometimes breaking the quiet with a comment or a question.

Although no one seemed to have the answer to Peter’s disappearance, everyone had their own theory about it. Someone was sure the rumor was true, that Peter actually lived in the North. Another one thought dramatically that he might have killed himself, the news simply not reaching their school. And the third thought Peter had become an artist, a writer or a painter, maybe a carpenter. Who knew?

And that’s the question, isn’t it? Do we ever know anything about each other? Because when someone changes, almost no one seems to understand what happens or how to react to the change.

When the teacher came back to the classroom, everyone waited excitedly to hear whose theory about Peter’s absence was correct. But they were left with nothing –

“No one has no clue what has happened”, the teacher said, sounding disappointed. “We’ll just have to do without him.”

And maybe that was exactly what Peter had wanted.

What did it tell about him?

 

Still Life Sunday: Changing Room

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7 Changing Room

Every Saturday I go to the local swimming hall for a 30-minute breast swim.

When swimming, everybody sort of become the same and individuals cease to exist. But in the changing room and the sauna I get to see these people, their faces, their naked bodies.

I have the opportunity to observe them, witness these people as they go on about their lives. And that is one of the best parts of my Saturday routine.

For instance, this is what I have seen:

A group of elderly women who attend a water gymnastics lesson every Saturday. After their work-out they sit in the changing room, talking loudly with each other – about food.

One time they talk about their favorite porridge as a child (rye-blueberry porridge being the favorite of many). Another Saturday it’s all about cakes with cream that taste like Irish Coffee (and how one of the grandchildren should bake the cake to impress a potential boyfriend).

And another Saturday, in the sauna:

Two women, sisters, both overweight with heavy breasts resting against their big bellies. They remind me of the sisters Alibullen – fictional characters from a children’s story my father used to read to me when I was little. In the books, the Alibullen sisters were always fun to visit – at the Alibullen Residence you could do anything you wished for and eat as many sweets and cakes you wanted.

While enjoying the heat, these two ladies gossip loudly about their childhood crushes and what these once handsome guys are up to nowadays. I just sit back, close my eyes and listen to their stories, feeling amused.

But this is my favorite observation yet:

A woman in her 50s, who sighs heavily and seems frustrated as she enters the changing room. However, the sighing ceases and calmness seems to take over the frustration when she sits down, takes out a fork from her bag and a huge plate of blueberry pie wrapped in a plastic bag.

I watch her eat the pie in gigantic, almost desperate mouthfuls, wondering what is happening. From one moment to another, I witness two completely different persons. And the change in character is all because of a pie made with blueberries.

After eating a third of the pie, she changes into her swimsuit and leaves for the showers.

People live their lives in so many different ways. By observing these people – in cafés, libraries, changing rooms – I get new perspectives on life. And sometimes I learn something from these observations – if I’m up for the challenge.