I’ll Listen To Waylon Jennings In a Spanish Cafe If I Want To.

I wander. It´s my thing. Some people draw, others dance, I wander. I call it different names though in order to make it sound like I do more than just one thing. I wander, mosey, meander, walk, scout-the-area. I like the last one because it sounds cool and something a spy would do. But in reality I wander and stumble upon cafes and then I write. These ‘cafe writings’ are kind of like really bad stalking. These people dont know that I´m writing about them in their precious coffee time, that I´m documenting the fact that they have a piece of pastry on their face; or, maybe they do. Nevertheless, I´m here, a stranger to them. With one look at me they know to speak slow, simple, Spanish words to me. I´m not oblivious when they turn to their friend and say something quickly in Valencian while keepig their eyes on me. I mean, c’mon lady, I dont think youre talking about the weather.
The baker today is the same woman who served me the other day. I find it homey, yet awkward at the same time. She sorts bread and restalks the cookie tray while her friends walk behind the counter to make coffee and talk in hushed tones. Though it was nearly empty moments ago when I walked in, the cafe is now filling up with uni students from the school down the road and elderly people from wherever elderly people come from. Since I´m in Spain and these elderly people are tough as nails, I assume they just walked a half mile carrying heavy bags because they ‘needed some fresh air’.
Conversations carry on around me in Spanish and Valencian. Mostly confusion to my mind, yet some words register and and are clear, as if the language is a dusty whirlwind and suddenly I’m finding an unbroken leaf. I hear a girl say “para aqui” but I don’t know what it is she ordered for here. I only find one leaf, not the whole tree.
I´ve managed to get a favorite seat of mine today. Although my Ultimate Favorite Cafe Seat is at the back of the room facing the door, today I am seated near the front. Okay, right behind the door. But, thanks to a V shaped glass entrance, I can scrutinize the happenings through the door without catching the chilly afternoon breeze. Outside the window, I see three stories of a building that reaches up much higher. Like many appartments in Spain, this one boasts large balconies with clothes lines and occational knick knacks. The balcony that catches my attention has five shirts hanging to dry, inside out, upside down. I want to assume they belong to a man but then again, what man takes time to hang up his laundry? There is a mountain bike up there beside a small table underneath the clothes. I’d guess that there is an ashtray on the table since most young people here smoke. Even if that man or woman doesn’t smoke, they likely have an ashtray for when their smoker friends come over.
I stop imagining for a moment and take a sip of my coffee. Its getting cold. I try the apple struddel I told myself not to buy and find that its sweet, but dry; like sugar and honey and apples on the top of damp cardboard. It’s probably from yesterday.
My attention is once again drawn out the window as I notice tiny little birds pecking at the cigarette butts that litter the sidewalk. I, for a brief moment,  wonder if a bird could die from lung cancer. As quickly as the random thought came into my head, it disappears. A little girl walks in with her grandmother and the the cafe regulars are rushing to greet her and offer her cookies and chocolate. She is maybe three years old with straight cut blonde hair that is set off by a sailor blue ribbon. I ponder to myself whether sailor blue is actually a colour, then decide it should be and focus on the little girl again. She probably doesn’t understand all thats happening as different people take her hands and pull her to different options of sweets and breads. When she makes eye contact with me I realize her eyes are not blue as I expected, but instead they are a dark green and grey; like mine. I think I have boring eyes, so flat and dull with premature wrinkles around them. But on this little girl they look mysterious and charming.
The girl leaves with her grandmother and I pick up my coffee. It is now completely cold. There is a ring of coffee-stained milk around the inside of the cup, and after a final gulp of cold, not-so-awesome-anymore liquid, only coffee grinds remain in the bottom. With that my coffee is finished, my pastry is eaten, and the cafe is in the middle of siesta along with the rest of Spain. One last look at the few neighbours scattered around the cafe tells me that I too should take advantage of this nationwide, three hour nap.  I think, then, that it is time for me to say ‘Adios’.


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