Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Getting Out to See Other Walls.

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.


  1. It was such a lovely post, Shawna! I like how flirty you got with that "cruel man" - I can picture you saying these words to him. :) I so agree with you about buying experiences vs. things. When we were terribly poor, or should I say broke, we found that there were many amazing experiences we could get for free - wonderful, wonderful libraries (some of the best in the country, not just by my opinion, though I agree), where we could get books, videos, browse Internet and yes, sit there in a comfy chair and write too! A lovely grocery store which is an experience in itself, a unique store for real foodies (unfortunately, they are gone from our town now) where we had cooking and cheese classes, wine testings etc, etc. Maybe you can find some similar experiences for free around you as well!

    I don't have a habit to write in a coffee shop, and when I do, most of the time, I write similar to what you posted here - notes about the world around me and my interactions with it. My English is soooooo poor. I wish I could share my real writing. I'm sure you'd appreciate. :)

    Sending you love and hugses in bunches xxxxxxxxxxxxx

  2. love!
    gorgeous post. of cause women are cruel and men are nice to you! you´r a beautiful, interesting looking woman! thats how the world moves :-)
    this old european social hot spot called "café" is something i missed very hard the last 3 years here in the middle of nowhere. but lately a bakery opened a café, not pretty interior but good food and coffee. and outdoor places on a broad sidewalk - with the view on the cute little old town and the fortress above. and all in all a comfy 6km walk. should go there more often.....
    wish we could met at a café - and natasha :-)

  3. Coffee shops are a great place to notice how well (or not well) people interact with others. That woman sounds like a real piece of work, but it's kind of funny to laugh at her pettiness after the fact. I still love to get away by shopping, but I do love your goal!

  4. Your story reminds me of trying to sit in a public place and sketch people. I love doing it but feel so exposed, like sitting in the middle of a room. If I can find just the right place I can enjoy it but I just don't bring a sketch book with me anymore because the chances of finding just the right seat are rare. Ugh, boy do we all know the vibes between women in public and how they can differ from the non-pretentious friendliness of men. My husband tells me that women don't typically like each other unless they decide to be friends. But he's just jaded in a lot of things so I don't really agree with him. I hope that woman translated your glance correctly when she offered her seat to those men. Perhaps it made her question herself as to why she responded to them that way and chose to not be helpful to you. But really, I think most people are not aware of their own actions and how they affect others.

  5. I love to sit in coffee shops, too - it's a fairly cheap outing, and like you said, it's an experience beyond the same walls of home. Too bad about the bitch, though.

  6. The more I get to know you, the more I find I have in common with you. I just don't get stuff done when I try to do what you did, and I'm proud of you for actually achieving coherent and interesting paragraphs in an uncomfortable public place! You really are a writer ... that's the right stuff!
    I get stuck here, way away from everything here at the ranch, and the few hours that I get on Wednesday and Sunday trips to the Big City are as necessary to me as air. I see lots of folks on the weekends at the restaurant, but that's another kind of interaction. I'm service, they're customer ... and although they often expect me to tap-dance and entertain them, never the twain shall meet away from the restaurant. It's a class thing we suffer here in the South-ish US. So Dan and I make most of our social contacts with other restaurant folk when we go out to dine. Busman's holiday.
    I know what you mean about better focus when you're home. For me, it's the habit of being attentive to other folks when I'm out, and I lose contact with the ideas I should be looking at. I'm so proud that you're making that work!
    I'm trying to do too much right now ... a new camera, a new digital painting program, lots of ideas, and I'm far behind on blog replies. Good never to be bored, I know, but there are not enough hours in the day.
    I'm looking forward to seeing your work and your face this year ahead. Good for you!

  7. I love this post dear Shawna. I am sorry that woman was so mean. Some passive aggressive thing going on maybe?! I prefer to be near a wall too. And I love the stories of encounters. xx

  8. My husband ALWAYS has to have a seat where he can see the door, and preferably with a wall behind him. I don't like those middle tables either. People are so strange. I find that many days I have either sublime interactions or really horrible ones. It always amazes me, either way. I just scratch my head and marvel. Sounds like you had one of "those" days.

    I work from home so I often go out just to interact. I need the change of scenery and the stimulation of people-watching. Too bad we have to spend money, but like you, I frequently end up in a coffee shop. Thrifting also provides that stimulation, and fortunately there are many places near my home that are great.

    I enjoyed reading this and felt myself right there! I would've cut my eyes at that lady too. As for the man, I think I would've decided I was glad I'd never have to see his greedy self again. I suspect you're like me and enjoy your own company. We're the lucky ones. XXOO

  9. Love your post Shawna ... Human beings sure are a complex and interesting study ~ So sad that woman (we won't call her a lady!!!) was so mean! Maybe she has some issues of her own!

    Glad that you go to go out and write in a different setting ~ Hot off the press has nothing on your post!

  10. I remember going to the mall when Mr Artist was tiny. He was a bottom shuffler, and he shuffled around the filthy floor while I sat and rested in another zone. With people but not with people. He always attracted smiles and even laughs. And came home with a dirty bottom!
    I understand about the back to the wall thing. I like to sit in a corner and make up stories about the people surrounding me. But when Bushy is with me he seats me facing the wall so he can have a conversation with me...sometimes there is a mirror...!
    I'm not at all surprised they valued you as a teacher. You have a delightful way which would have connected to the children for sure. I'm sure the parents liked you too, very important in my book.
    I'm glad you got to go out and see (and back into)other people's walls for a change :-) xo Jazzy Jack


I love visitors and I love comments. I will try my best to respond to everyone! Thanks for stopping by.