There are some things I know from spending so much time at my coffee shop of choice:
A woman, about seven months pregnant, is trying to decide if she should go on an exotic trip. She wants to, but isn't sure it's safe. She's spoken to several friends about her predicament.
A man in love with his own voice and gestures runs a company that makes nutrition bars. They are sold at Whole Foods. He very much wants his nutrition bar to be the Number One nutrition bar in existence.
Another man, this one not nearly so well groomed, with a greasy black-gray beard, sits in the corner day after day. He jiggles his knees compulsively and stares with wide, baggy eyes, a small smile cavorting across his lips. He speaks to no one.
Next to me, a woman drafts a book. She seems as unfocused as I do, writing a little, then chatting online, browsing, downloading music, writing a little more. I say, "Sorry to be nosy, but that looks suspiciously like a manuscript."
"A memoir," she says. She's been working on her story almost as long as I've been working on mine. She's on her third draft. I think I've seen her around school, that she's another parent.
I marvel at all the creative people, ambitious people, down-trodden people who pass in and out of my life everyday. I'm sad that, most of them, I'll never really know.
Though in certain ways it seems like I do, like I might. Sometimes I feel I've run across so many people in my life that I see the intrinsic sameness of us all. Each of us possess bits of the same qualities, they are just rationed differently. A little more drive and energy for this one. A touch of mental illness for that. More compassion for him. A heavier stroke of insecurity for her.
Or maybe I'm just naïve.