Now and then

A blank Word document awaits my thoughts and some kind of indy music pumps through my earphones. A warm beverage in a white ceramic cup sits next to my white computer. I take long pulls from it as I mull over my thoughts and what I will pound out next.

This is scene I know well. Usually my backdrop is a coffee shop. Students and other lost creatives don’t bother to interact with each other but stare into a screen looking for that companionship they so desire. Soccer moms order lattes, cappuccinos and other sugary drinks that fool you into thinking they are not currently destroying your body. Old men sip coffee and debate about topics they are surely experts on. I try not to make my appearance well known, but I do want someone to notice me.

This time thought it is a drab yellow box of a room. There are two windows, both filthy and one is partly covered by a nearly standing bookshelf. Around the room are stacks and stacks of papers that have some meaning of organization to the person who put them there. Instead of a leather over-sized chair or a steel one with a matching table, I am sitting on a wooden desk built for two. I am not picking at a pastry; rather a half slab of corn a student gave me. There is no one but me and it feels relieving and painful at the same time.

So much has changed in my life as I went from my weekly stops to coffee shops to this worn room in rural Africa. Time and experience have passed, but it seems that something bigger should mark this transportation, like a flip of a switch or the cross of a red line.

Somewhere, somehow those days became the past and this the future, then the unfamiliar and this the comfortable. I nearly can’t remember those days.

The night before, I walked home from school, washed my dishes out of a bucket, ran, took a bucket batch while my dinner cooked over a gas stove and then treated myself to a few hours of old TV episodes on my lap top. It felt completely normal and routine and that I can no longer recall what I did after a day of work back in the U.S. I suppose something similar, maybe with the occasional drink or dinner with a friend thrown into the mix. But I seriously do not remember.

This is how I live now, but soon it will end. That is terrifying. What will I do after work? Where will I write? I dream about scooting into a corner booth with my computer and cup of coffee or curling up on the couch watching my favorite sitcom after work, yearning for them because I know that at one time they were comfortable. But those little moments of life are what drove me here in the first place, looking for something more.

Now, I want them back but they are now unknown to me. This is what I have and slowly they are becoming my comfort. Yet, soon, they’ll be gone too.

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