Every now and then she enters, often only exposing a bashful nose and quiet eyes through the crevices of her winter gear. Slipping in deliberately unnoticed, she takes a seat in the corner that detaches herself from the communal nature of the cafe.
She looked so familiar to me, like a face I had seen somewhere else in another life. But then again, there are so many people like this, content to stay planted on the walls in a space where they prefer to observe rather than participate. Those same faces whose features only sharpen in familiarity and philosophical conversation, translating how their hearts and thoughts work in tandem to face the perils of living an average life…whose generic beauty is sculpted uniquely through the context in which you meet.
Still, she comes in and talks to no one, always ordering the same meal, as she summons into her hands a small paperback novel. Her eyes determinedly stay focused on the page, even though the pace of this place is spellbinding in its ability to distract. I am one of these victims, feeling rather rude most of the time when I sit inside, never being able to maintain eye contact with someone for too long despite the intimacy of the conversation. Most of the chairs point outwards and the walls are composed mostly of large panels of glass that make the outside world look more like an obscure reality show. If your back is facing these giant screens of mimicry, you will find yourself turning your head every now and then to see why the person you’re talking to seems to be unable to pay absolute attention to what you’re discussing.
On one such occasion, on a busy evening, she had to sit in the middle area that attracted the most friendly conversation between strangers. I was eager to quell a curiosity and went up to her.
“Have we met before?”
“I don’t think so.”
She had nothing more to say to me, but I wasn’t satisfied with such a curt reply.
“I’m sorry, I just thought I had seen you before.”
“Ah you know, this is Edinburgh. I’m sure you have seen me before somewhere.”
I knew better than to intrude on a private moment, even if it was in solitude.
What piqued my interest the most was the fact that she would enter such a loud and social environment to entertain this introverted nature. Perhaps it was her version of social interaction, watching all these lonely creatures congregate in this crazy melting pot of artists, alcoholics, lost souls and hungry people.
How ironic it was that we mostly stared outwards when we were here.