I’m in my second year of coursework for my doctoral degree. Every Sunday I go to my local Starbucks to do reading and work on various assignments. And every Sunday, without fail, I see the same woman.
She looks to be in her late 60s, early 70s maybe. Her silvery gray hair is always pulled back into a low ponytail. She wears a matching sweatshirt and sweatpants combo- usually navy blue, and white sneakers. Always piled on her table are 3-4 library books, stacked haphazardly, as if she’s referenced them often. She writes on a legal pad and generally sits at a table tucked away in the corner. Rarely does she ever look up. She is always there when I arrive, and is still there when I leave after 3 or 4 hours.
This woman has intrigued me for several years. I’m so curious about what she’s doing. Of course, it is absolutely none of my business, but I find her so fascinating. I cannot maintain the level of focus that she has- I often get distracted by other patrons, the view out the window, and the internet- even with headphones on. This woman is somehow able to tune out everything around her.
Is she writing a great novel? Is she researching her family history? I can never get close enough to see the pile of library books and she turns them in such a way that the spines face the wall. Maybe she doesn’t want anyone to see. I can never get a table close enough to her, because the place is always crowded on Sunday.
Recently the store closed for a few weeks to remodel the interior. I thought about this woman constantly, wondering where she was going to work….I didn’t see her at the library, which is where I went in the interim (although, the library is large and I didn’t go searching for her….I’m not that much of a creeper). When it finally reopened at the end of February, she was back again at her usual spot, writing away.
Maybe one day I will strike up a conversation with her….or maybe I will just let her work in peace and continue to wonder what she’s up to. Regardless, I take comfort in the fact that, every Sunday, she’ll be there when I arrive, and remain when I leave. The woman who writes at Starbucks.