I am fortunate that I actually have more than four walls in my home as well as large windows with a great view, I am essentially a home body, but I still get a bit stir crazy at times. Unfortunately, when the urge to get out hits there are not a lot of options for me. Hiking or skiing or water sports are readily available but not within my range of possibility and neither is my once much loved gardening pursuit. At the moment even walking any distance that takes more than ten minutes is not an option either. I want to combine the opportunity to get out and see people, scenery, move around, but never be far from a safe place to rest or the ease of getting home again if I need to. This usually means that my options are to go shopping or to go to a cafe or out for lunch with a friend. All of these involve spending money but I try to spend money and time on experiences more often than on things. I must admit this is a challenge. I am not immune to the lure of something new, even if it is only new to me and then there is the other form of rationalising I am prone to. If I have taken the time and effort required to get myself downtown then I should be efficient and while I am there, shop for everything I could possibly need. Or not need.
So I have strategies to try and divert myself from shopping when I feel the need to get out. I have had to change my mindset and think of driving to a place where I can then park and walk around. Or drive to a cafe as there are non in what is walking distance for me, and spend a bit of time in someone else's walls. A change is as good as a rest, they say and my life is all about rest, so it is change that I must find ways to create. If I have a goal this year, and I don't think it is a goal timed specifically for the new calender year so much as just an idea for moving forward, it is to get out and express my creativity in places other than my own home. I can take my laptop and write, I can draw and sketch and I can take photographs in places around my small town. I tend to prefer to write and paint at home, where I am settled, safe, comfortable.
As I write this I am sitting in the local cafe pictured above. I am not relaxed, though I am trying to be. I am easily distracted and always on guard. When I arrived there were not many available tables, as it is a small cafe and the only other one in town is closed for renovations. I took the only remaining empty table, which was in the middle of the room and has hard chairs and set down my bag, rummaged around for my wallet and got in line to order my coffee. At that moment a woman who had been sitting in a seat I would prefer, next to the window, back to the wall and a padded chair, got up and picked up her phone, appearing to be vacating her spot. I smiled and politely asked if she was finished with this spot and she hesitated. She wasn't sure. She checked with a friend who happened to be the proprietor of the place, "Are you going to have a chance to come and sit with me?" The answer was yes, so she turned to me and said, "No, I am not finished with it yet." Ever smiling and polite, I thanked her anyway and returned with my coffee to my middle of the room seat, uncomfortable and restless. I kept an eye on the various other spots in the room that I would move to if they were vacated, feeling guiltily like a predator waiting to pounce.
Ten minutes went by and the woman began to make moves to leave. At that moment two men came into the cafe, looked around and made eye contact with her. She looked right at me, then turned to them and smiled and said "Oh you can have this spot."
Bitch! I thought and gave her my best 'you are a bitch' smile. Five minutes after that another table became free and I moved. As the woman vacated it, I smiled and asked if the table was now free, and apologetically added "Sorry if I am pouncing, but I really dislike being in the middle of the room." She looked at me as though I were speaking a foreign language but did acknowledge that the table was now free. As I slid into my coveted spot, a man sitting nearby smiled at me and so I made a lighthearted comment about feeling more relaxed now that I had my back to the wall. "Yes," he said, "like a gunfighter you have that sense that someone might be sneaking up on you."
Men are definitely friendlier to me than women, except women who want to sell me something. I don't understand this as I am equally friendly to all and not exactly the town sex pot so I am no threat. When I got up to get my second coffee, a man was claiming a sandwich, thick with meat and cheese and bagel. I could not help but admire it and he informed me that he was very hungry and I said that I was too but since I cannot eat gluten I must admire all of this food in vain. He asked me if I wanted him to describe the joys of eating it to me. "Are you always a cruel man?" I asked. "Not normally," he said. Then he inhaled his sandwich and was gone before I could finish typing this paragraph.
The best encounter of all was when an administrator from my past teaching career came in. He sat down at my table for a few minutes of chat and getting caught up and was kind enough to tell me what a wonderful teacher I had been and how significant was my connection to the children. It means a lot to me to hear that so I shall treasure those words. I miss the children.
I love these sorts of exchanges, with males or females, young or old, it does not matter to me. I just like to get out and see people and talk to them. Then I am happy to go home by myself again. And this time, while I have indeed spent money on coffee, and it was not exactly a bargain, I also paid for an experience and one that was worth it to me.