subject line: coffee shop wifi


somewhere between the forest and the ocean

I just found a letter I wrote to myself almost 3 years ago. Little did I know, 3 months later I would be madly in love and 2 1/2 later I’d be someone’s wife. And the best part is, I still feel all the ways I felt in that letter to myself, I just have a partner in mutual weirdness to share it all with. Funny how we can come to realizations over and over again and think “this time I’ve really got it figured out,” over and over again.

Here is the letter:

I sit here, all day, through cups of coffee and assorted pastries, files and folders at my fingertips. Constantly, I am clicking, ticking, thinking, watching the people around me sip their coffee and avoid eye contact with each other. We all do this. We sit here, a collection of business men and students, drifters and dreamers, every one of us here for different reason, every one of us here for the same. We crave connection. People are pack animals, we need our herd, our tribe. Yet, we live in a world where to reach out to strangers has been deemed dangerous. “Stay in your comfort zone!” it whispers, “don’t stray from your own pack.” So we sit in coffee shops, we sit near each other, we make awkward eye contact, and we don’t speak. We turn to the letters on our keyboards, the far away folks in our smart phones. We don’t speak. But what if we did? What if all it took was a simple hello?

The tall, thin-framed gentleman in front of me looks weathered. He sits cross-legged, with bright blue shoes and stripedy socks. I imagine he’s an old surfer. The type of man who’s spirit will probably never get old. I imagine that if I said hello to him he would tell me stories for hours about the good days, about the places he’s been and the spots he’s surfed, about that time he came face to face with a giant seal. He checks the time on his plastic spiderman watch, does he have somewhere to be? He looks intently at the screen of his computer from behind loud, thick framed purple glasses. My attention drifts.

The handsome young man in the striped sweater and big black beanie looks disappointed that the internet has crashed. We exchange glances and awkward smiles. Maybe we should talk to each other instead. Maybe he’s working on a paper and is dying for input but is too nervous to ask for help. I imagine that I ask him what he’s working on. I imagine we talk for an hour about biology or astronomy, or how we share a similar dream of being artists or activists or astronauts before we exchange numbers and promise to stay in touch. I look away, because maybe I’m in the middle of a story, and maybe I’d rather imagine the conversations I’d have with people than actually have them.

I then turn in to myself. I see my reflection in the screen I am facing. Fine lines are beginning to gather around the eyes on my young face. I see my crooked teeth that form a sideways smile, and eyebrows that arch in two different ways. I see cracks in my forehead that are constantly being carved by stories and experiences. I see a light in my eyes fueled by a thousand burning desires. I feel that fire being gently stoked by the hopes and dreams in my heart.

I think about my body. I think about how much I love it; an athletic frame built to work hard, broad shoulders to give warm embraces, and muscular legs for climbing trees, long adventures, and pulling a man in close.

I have been mad at myself. It is the hardest thing to say out loud, and no one ever seems to understand, though we all feel it sometimes. I battle a hundred burning questions a day. “Why can’t I focus? What do I want? Why have I been sitting here eating a tub of Nutella for an hour? Why don’t I travel more? Why can’t I embrace being social?”

I am coming to terms, slowly, with the fact that I am never going to answer these questions. That maybe I was born to wander, that my path will always have peek-a-boos that lead to vast oceans views and heavily wooded tunnels. That maybe, my lack of focus isn’t because I lack passion and drive, but because I have so much that the decision to do one thing for the rest of my life is
nonsensical. Maybe I ate all that Nutella because I damned well wanted to. I find myself constantly trying to apologize to myself for my faults. Why? Some people are born destined to be doctors or lawyers to or managers or actors. What if maybe I was born to write? What if maybe I was born to write, draw, climb trees, start businesses, and paint beautiful designs in henna on people’s bodies, to teach yoga, to walk dogs, to be an entrepreneur or invent something? I think that maybe we are all born with a purpose. And for some of us that purpose is to never find out what our purpose is. It is to chase wild dreams and change our minds a thousand times. It’s to wander among the trees and alongside oceans and make memories, not money.