Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Character Sketches at Starbucks: Dec. 8th, 2009

As I sit here, in my beloved Starbucks (not any one in particular, I hold them all dear to my Pacific Northwest heart), I like to look around at the other coffee aficionados and make assumptions about their personality and jobs and the like. Yes, they are only mere assumptions and rather superficial at that, but people studying is kind of a natural tendency. Besides, I have a splitting headache and can’t seem to concentrate on my novel, so I am left with glancing around, through the finger pressure on my temples, and drawing inaccurate conclusions of the coffee crowd.

Today, I am tucked into a nice oversized chair near the corner. I usually prefer the one in the corner but there’s an elderly man lounging there, he just finished perusing the newspaper and has started on a library book. I saw the library stamp when he picked it up. He is a pretty tall guy, married. Likely retired. Doesn’t really look the type to hang at Starbucks, “home of the overpriced cup-o-Joe”. Most men of his age, which I have been acquainted with, like their coffee nearly free with complimentary refills. So, can’t quite peg him. Maybe he lives nearby and has a routine of walking here in the morning. He has good, sturdy shoes on and they are rather sandy and dirty, much like he would have walked rather than drove.

Across from me stands a tall, older guy that I have seen in here before. He is singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” with Barbara Streisand on the stereo. The guy sitting in the third over-sized chair recognized his voice and said hi (I have seen him in here before as well). They both look like interesting, artsy-types. Maybe authors; ones that are actually published. Apparently Tall Guy is a baritone, who’s voice is not what it used to be when he was younger, so he says. I am not eavesdropping. He is standing four feet from me discussing it in his deep baritone voice. Hard to miss. He is usually in the company of an avant-garde looking African American artist that carries around a sketchbook and looks like he would be one of the cool neighborhood guys on Sesame Street. Wonder where he is today?

The fourth chair is occupied by a New Yorker. Well, she just looks like a New Yorker to me: Italian background, sophisticatedly casual, gorgeous naturally curly ebony hair. Perfect skin. I am guessing she is working on a proposal on her laptop over there. Or, maybe she is describing the tired looking blonde lady sitting across from her typing on her laptop over here. Anyway, she is a true natural beauty and I really want her hair.

It seems New Yorker has finished her proposal and is gathering her things to leave. Tall Guy has started singing “White Christmas” and is trying to sit on the coffee table right in front of me to talk to Artsy Friend. Oh, he realizes New Yorker is leaving and sits there instead. He needs a pipe.

Behind his new perch sits a young couple that are pregnant with their first. Again, that is my assumption. They aren’t young, young. Just seem to be having a nice leisurely breakfast before she pops, which looks to be any moment. This particular Starbucks is in front of the hospital district so there may be some strategy involved with their choice of location. Anyway, they look really together, he in a jaunty hat that seems a bit funky for his age (maybe 30?), she in a black sweater that has the absence of spit up or other tell-tale signs of small children. It’s their first bambino; I would bet on it.

The rest of the dining area is sprinkled with business men on computers, or in deep and important conversations. Then there’s one couple sitting so far from me I can’t see much about their style or body language to make anything out. Except they have a Mac. That sort of makes them artsy by default, doesn’t it?

That concludes my summary and wraps up the crowd, for the moment. Oh wait, here comes the dude from Sesame Street! I knew he would show up sooner or later. He’s here every time I come by. He’s headed this way to talk to Artsy Friend and Tall Guy. They all have facial hair.

This is fun. I feel like both an intruder and a journalist, typing about what I am seeing and hearing while it happens. Maybe these characters will end up in a book I write some day. Especially that baritone. I’ll make sure he has a pipe.


Missy Linkletter said...

I so appreciate your writing style Heather! You are a hoot! :)

D Ashour said...

That was fun, Heather!

At the Intersection of Creation and Evolution: A Dream

The alliterating story below is based on a dream I had several years ago. Please contact me for permission to reproduce.

Darkness devours me.

I am enveloped in emptiness.

Are my eyes open or are they closed? I strain against this shroud of night and still see nothing.

What is this place?

An image illuminates in front of me. A large, leafy tree streaks past and vanishes.

It deserts me to the darkness again.

In a moment, more images appear. A rapid succession of snapshots and thoughts clamor before my eyes and mingle in my mind.

I see seedlings. Several supple shoots have emerged before me and then swiftly stream away.

“The first trees on earth were not seedlings”, my mind observes. “They were not created as small insignificant saplings.”

That thought is rapidly replaced with a vision of a man.

He’s maybe 30; he is muscular and needs to shave.

He fades away.

In his place I see an infant.

A tiny bundle of pink skin upon a soft blanket flickers briefly in my brain.

“Man was created with age,” is the next statement I hear. “Adam did not begin his life as a baby, he began as a grown man.”

The voice seems like my own.

The thoughts do not.

Reeling before me now is a blur of rivers, forests, mountains and even layers of the earth. It is like a movie rushing rapidly before my retina.

The soundtrack of this epic is proclaiming a peculiarly plain concept:

“The earth was created with age. Creation and evolution are not in total opposition. There is a reason that science finds the earth to be quite old: it was made that way.”

Thoughts continue to tumble through my mind; pictures parade before me. I listen in amazement to what seems to be puzzlingly profound and yet rather apparent all at once.

“Adam was created as an adult. Trees and plants were made fully grown.”

I suddenly feel quite certain that, if I were to chop down some of the trees that had been spoken into existence, I would find a range of rings running through their trunks.

“The earth was brought to life with age built into it… just like Adam. He did not begin life as an infant. The earth came into being with what it would need to sustain the life that was created. It was old when it was young. The world was
made with maturity; it was also produced with purpose.”

These thoughts are thrilling. Why had I not seen this before? It seems so simple. Obtusely obvious. Had others not observed this correlation? If they had, why wasn’t it being candidly conveyed?

In the span of thirty seconds I have been ravaged by a radical revelation. I feel the weight of its worth resting on me; it is tantamount to tangible.

I am neither a theologian nor am I a scientist. I don’t claim that the ethics of evolution are completely compatible with the Bible’s account of creation. But certainly Science can come concurrent to creation and affirm our faith with facts.

Of course, the Omnipotent Originator of the Universe is exceedingly elusive to what our mind could ever envision. Above what science could ever extensively elucidate.

Accordingly, creation is confounding too. Each diverse discovery deems it more marvelous to grasp. Many scientists have reluctantly relented to the theory of Intelligent Design.

That’s why, alongside those facts, we also need faith.

Lying inexplicably at the intersection of those two essential elements is an exceptional endowment: the intermittent insight of our dreams.