coffee hugs

I sighed, looked at and in my change purse again. How much change can I use before I look poor? I wondered. Who cares? It’s not like I’ll return to this or any other Starbuck’s for the remainder of the summer. Maybe I have more money in the fall or maybe the falling leaves just kick my brain into some heightened level of excitement –

And suddenly my thoughts stopped, because I felt hot breath on the back of my neck. “Guess who?” a voice was asking, and I was pulling in my shoulders and jumping forward before I actually understood someone had been hugging me from behind. “Lola!” laughed Aviva, behind me, all teeth on display again, “Why are you so uptight?” I rubbed my shoulders, shivered a little. “Oh, hi, Aviva, hi,” I said, not knowing what to say – whatever the right thing to say was, it probably wasn’t ‘hi’.

“She’s my child’s teacher,” she waved at the barista, who was looking at both of us with extreme apprehension.

This was supposed to be the highlight of my day, I thought, and now all I want is to run screaming from this place.

“That sounds horrible!” She exclaimed, leaning an elbow on the counter as if it were second nature. “Yes, it is. That’s why I try to keep my mind off it.” She nodded. “No wonder! The strain you’re under must be incredible!” I nodded, pressed my lips together. “Hey – ” she shifted forward. “Your eyes look so sad. Since when are your eyes so sad?”

“Oh, I don’t know, since it all started I suppose. Yes, everyone has commented.”

“So it’s not just me that has noticed. Oh, what will you do?”

I glared at her, said very slowly, “I’m trying not to talk about it, at all. I came here to relax. And let my mind feed on other things.” She nodded, and I turned back to what was in front of me. In a minute she will go away, I told myself. I am going to browse the fuck out of these friendship bracelets and I will forget all else.

“Are you going to get one for a friend?” She asked, lifting herself off the counter. “I might,” I answered, beginning to feel the absorption in the incredible shininess in front of me take hold. “You’re going to give it to her tonight?” She asked softly. “Maybe tomorrow,” I murmured. Purple is a colour very easily done wrong, I thought. There’s good purple and then there’re the purple dolphins at Walmart and that’s another thing entirely.

“So you’re still going out with friends?” I made a noise of assent. “Where are you going to go?” I shrugged. “We usually just eat and talk or coffee and talk. No big deal.”

“What are the names of the restaurants you go to? Like the names and the neighborhood.” Suddenly I felt a little cold, and turned to look her full in the face. “Why do you ask that?” I asked her quietly. She jumped back. “Well fine, I mean if you’re embarrassed to let me know how you spend your time then well whatever.”

The next day, over coffee I told Vicki what had happened. “What a weirdo. Don’t go back there,” she told me, removing two unground coffee beans from her drink with a shrug. “I don’t know dude,” I said, leaning back in my chair. “Maybe like, when she’s not there?” She set the beans down gently on a napkin, as if they were set aside for later use. Then she looked up at me and shook her head. “This is the same woman who wanted to know if your hair was naturally that colour and what brand of mascara you used and where you lived and if you had seen that boy you mentioned was hot one day and she’s never forgotten a single detail of your life, has she?”

“No. She remembers as if she were keeping notes.”

“So no, I don’t care what the prices are like, she’s the owner, never go back.”

“Do you ever wonder how many people we know are just, like, drifters? Not completely sane and with all sorts of horrible back stories but you can hide it in a big city, and they do, and we never know, unless our lives intersect too deeply and then very suddenly we’re in what feels like a parallel world?”

She pursed her lips to answer, but we simulataneously caught sight of a little girl running seemingly towards us in a frilly little dress, with a perfect little bob, running and dancing and twirling. She couldn’t have been over four. I began to smile until I saw her face.

It was red and crumpled in tears, even as her tiny body kept moving cheerfully.


Sometimes I don’t want to go to sleep because it just means I’ll have to wake up what feels like immediately afterwards. As if staying awake for five minutes more of hazy night is somehow better than hearing the dreaded alarm.

But then it’s night and sense-making has been done away with and my apprehension of the next day keeps me from falling asleep.

Or delays it, I guess. I’m not ruling insomnia out as a lifestyle choice but I’m too young – sleep still hijacks my body when it wants to, black bag over the head and hello Siberia.

meant to say

Sometimes I like it, and sometimes I don’t – accordion music. Sometimes it seems to me indicative of everything that’s wrong with the world, the –

That isn’t what I meant to say. I meant sometimes I drink so much coffee I believe I can conquer the world –

Still, altogether not what I meant to say. I shouldn’t let anyone into my house. I should never have guests.

Or maybe I should never have anyone over that I actually like.

john + wig

“Now, that is a beautiful woman,” the director nodded towards a woman sitting outside Starbucks. “But she’s probably too ‘pale’ for your tastes, isn’t she Lola?” I squinted at the woman. She was pale – but that wasn’t what I noticed. “She looks like John if he were a woman!” I gasped. “Like, stick a wig on John and voilĂ  – this lady.” She shrugged. “So? She’s pretty. I happen to think – ”

“What, that John looks like a girl?!” Because I assure you, he doesn’t.

“No. But I guess he is pretty. Or handsome. Anyway what is the chocolatey-est drink here? Mocha-mochas?”

I sighed. Again, I wanted to tell him, wanted very much to tell him, but ended up just rubbing my nose and exhaling a lot.


“I never felt like this with anyone before,” he said softly, taking my hand. “I finally understand all those lyrics to all those love songs – ”

“I’ve heard that before.” I interjected in an even tone. I was careful to keep my voice un-accusatory. He pulled back. “Oh really? I guess men just line up to tell you how wonderful you are?” I stuck a straw in my Frappucino. “If you are honestly asking -”
“I am. I am asking you or I wouldn’t have said anything.” He crossed his arms. He had dropped my hand rather quickly onto the hard wood of our table top.

“In that case,” I answered breezily, “It isn’t just men professing love to me.”
“Women like you too, huh?”
“Or so they say. I never said ‘all women everywhere at once.’ ”
“Well obviously, right? I mean, my sister hates you. She says you’re a stuck up bitch and that body will change once you pop out a kid or too.” I smiled. “Or Bobby, I could live fast and fall in love with a beautiful girl who doesn’t slip the word ‘bitch’ into conversation when she’s annoyed. Or maybe I’ll find a nice boy who doesn’t quote the Cure while holding my hand in a Starbucks.” I stood up and shook the crumbs from my skirt.

He looked a little shocked. “Is there anything that impresses you?” I put on my sunglasses. “Of course – sincerity. I am always impressed by sincerity.”

It’s true. I might be continually unimpressed with life, but sincerity makes me blush furiously.

It’s so uncommon.

mono + legal

There was a stack of papers waiting for me: contracts that the parents had signed. The words ‘legally bound’ came to mind – but so did the word ‘mono.’

By the time I had read the contracts I had also finished the entire pot of coffee (no cream, no sugar) and, although my hands were shaking and I knew that the euphoria would last no longer than ten minutes I still felt that there was no legality beyond my grasp. I outlined a plan of action on a sticky note, sketching rapidly all possible outcomes into a flow chart.

When I woke up three hours later the sticky note was in my hand and the pen was semi-adhered to my face.

But really on the whole I think it’s almost over – the mono, that is.