Nancy Gosse ~ Journey of Truth

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Friday, February 4, 2011

Observations of Life From Sappho's Cafe Window

I sit here at the window counter at Sappho’s Café, on Duckworth Street in St. John’s, Newfoundland. This window may as well be a window to the world. My eyes are drawn to the war memorial which is next to the café.
There are a bunch of wreaths sitting along the base of the memorial, remnants of Remembrance Day. They are partially covered in March’s melting snow. Some are torn and falling in a heap. They are a silent testament; much like the monument itself. The wreaths have now faded into obscurity to the passers by; they no longer hold an interest to them. My attention comes back to where I am sitting.
This coffee shop was at one time a used music store. I had come by here one day hoping to find a cd to buy. Instead I am now sitting here writing and sipping coffee. I look over again to the war memorial to notice how the trees are growing up around it. Then I notice how someone has left a Tim Horton’s coffee cup on the stone wall. It sits there looking so lonely, begging to tell a story of how it came to be there. Funny how humans are so unattached to how simple things like leaving a coffee cup behind can leave a legacy.
A police officer is now strolling down the walk, talking on his cell phone. He stops in front of the war memorial in front of where the coffee cup sits. He’s leaning casually over the railing unaware that he is the subject of an observers writing. Isn’t life like that? All this coming and going, observed or not, fading into and out of the background. A collage. A tapestry. An ever-flowing musical of life. All seemingly separate components yet all part of the flow of this play called life.
Two men are loading a rolled up Persian rug into their truck. A young girl is darting across the street and comes inside to order a cup of coffee to go, but she can’t resist the warm cookies just baked. She orders two. Another woman carrying a shopping bag is walking along very intently toward her car. Perhaps she’s over-extended her lunch break. A young chic couple pulls up and gets out of their car, sticks money in the meter, crosses the street and heads for Definitions, a new trendy fitness centre catering to the corporate class. They look happy, relaxed, and very much in love for the way they look at each other and cautiously guide each other along the walk. A dad pulls up in his mini-van and lets his two young girls out of the back. The girls run excitedly up the street and into The Doghouse; tres chic pet boutique. Maybe they’ve just gotten a new puppy and now they need supplies. The young girl who ordered the cookies is now sitting at the counter across from me. She’s talking on her cell phone, saying I love you to whomever it is, making plans to go to yoga class and meet up with her lover later at Hava Java; the one known around town for it’s acceptance of the alternative and hip lifestyles and which coincidentally has a gay bar upstairs called Zone 216. She then leaves and walks up the opposite side of the street where she goes into Posie Row, another one of those trendy little downtown boutiques.
Above the corner at Prescott Street I see a rooftop balcony. It has the look of an executive living building. A great view of the activity of Duckworth Street; a beautiful place to lounge in summer for a gathering of friends for a bar-b-que and a few drinks.
Three people carrying Tim Horton’s cups, all looking very serious, trying to get to where they are going, choosing carefully their steps around the snow.
Still the wreaths sit at the war memorial unnoticed and forgotten.
A man in a business suit stops, gets out of his car, which looks like a rental, puts money in the meter, and with an armful of papers, he’s asking a passerby for directions while trying to keep his papers from being blown from his hands by the breeze that just came up.
Another couple holding Tim’s cups are strolling up the sidewalk, scanning around until their faces light up as they see Fred’s Record store across the street. They excitedly dart across the street and go inside the store.

Several days have gone by and I’m back here at the window at Sappho’s, looking across to the stone wall of the memorial. Again, what do I see, but a Tim Horton’s cup, sitting this time on the base of the street lamp. How many people have rested by that post? How many conversations took place? How many hearts got broken? How many drug deals? And the lonely cup sits there to silently bear witness.
The rain is beating down, as it had been all morning, but people are still out taking care of their business. It doesn’t seem to dampen their spirits much. A group of ladies are now gathered at Sappho’s. It’s suddenly very noisy here as it fills with the chatter of friends…seemingly old friends who are excitedly telling their stories and catching up. They only dropped in for coffee break and piled out as quickly as they in.

Several more days have passed by. The scene today at the War Memorial is quite different. The sun is streaming down. Even though it’s still a little chilly outside, it feels much more like spring is in the air. A couple of ladies, seeming to be mother and daughter, are sitting on the edge of the ledge, taking a rest, smiling, chatting. There is no evidence now of the old dilapidated wreaths that once cluttered up that ledge. Someone has cleared them away. The Tim Horton’s cup that once sat nearby is gone.
It looks clear, bright, and cheerful…until I see the young girl doubting her cigarette by crushing it into the side of the memorial. Pity that she would be smoking at all, and that she would deface this nice monument by leaving ashes.
I encountered a young gentleman at Sappho’s today. He was vacating a chair as I was just coming in. He was seated in my chair in my spot by the front window. We casually started talking and I told him how I loved to sit in this spot. He told me he’s a writer. We engage in discussion about writing and about being inspired to share stories of growth. He is all smiles, telling me that he’s glad I came in because I’ve given him inspiration.
That’s nice. I guess that’s part of my purpose for writing.

To the oblivious eye, these snippets of seemingly inconsequential events silently weave the rich tapestry of all these lives. Who are we to know the greater forces that influence the flow of comings and goings; the human tides of life? I suppose that’s just the point; most of us don’t care to know and continue on in our existence without ever allowing such a pure moment of silently witnessing. Without that the beauty of such chaotic yet intricately orchestrated dance is left to perform without audience. Much like the question many of us have heard, “If a tree falls in the woods with no one around to hear it, does it actually make a noise?” In the great cosmic story, the unfolding continues regardless of who may be bearing witness to its unfolding.

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