by Trisha Federis

Our mutual friend told me he’s been back in the bay for a while and that he now lives on 62nd and Alcatraz. She saw him sitting a couple of tables over at Arbor Cafe, sipping from an iced coffee.

I actually don’t know what he was drinking for sure. She didn’t tell me anything specific like that. It just seemed like he would because that’s the type of drink he used to order when I knew him.

She also didn’t tell me what he was reading, or if he was reading anything at all for that matter. But once she told me she saw him at the café, I immediately pictured him reading a book. A book related to economics, something by Veblen or Postone. In fact it seemed too easy to picture him there, sitting at Arbor Café, with an iced coffee in one hand and Veblen in the other.

I pictured him gazing at the door absentmindedly, because he used to do that: dive into a book for ten minutes and then look blankly round the cafe while thinking about what he just read.

I thought it would be harder to imagine him here though, because I don’t know much about him these days and I don’t know why he moved back. I heard through another mutual friend that he quit his job and was looking for a new one. This news didn’t affect me that much because I assumed he was going to stay in Boston. I never visited him after he moved there two years ago and because I’ve never been to that city it was easier for me not to think about what he was doing all this time.

But now he’s back in town and that’s no good. Because it’s too easy to watch his frayed jeans sweeping the floor as he shuffles toward the cash register, his hands anxiously clutching his satchel as he waits for his iced coffee. He sits down at the table in the back and pulls out his Veblen and begins to read. Now he furrows his brow at the words, completely absorbed. It’s all too easy: the light refracted through the swinging glass door catches his eye, and now he looks toward it. From the way he casts his gaze through the window to the way he fidgets in his seat, it’s easy to imagine him waiting for something he’s not even sure will come, which I will always picture to be some brilliant idea that needs to be written down, or some sentiment unarticulated. The idea is coming to him, he can feel it. It is coming, like the blurry shadow beyond the glass, growing familiar only at the moment when the hand reaches for the handle to let herself in.

Trisha Federis wrote this awhile ago. And this. She’s the co-headitor of Oatmeal Magazine.


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