There is a new coffee shop/bakery/cafe in my town. It reminds me of one I discovered and wanted to take home in my suitcase when I was in the Yukon six months back: Burnt Toast Cafe (Whitehorse) and Burnt Brick Cafe (Woodstock.
Both have similar names and beet salads. The similarities start and stop there.
Yes, while trying to envision the decor of this new cafe I have felt the brick wall next to my table. I called ahead and reserved a place. This means I was expected by the staff when I arrived, like I belonged there.
As I sit and eat my beet salad with goat cheese and candied pecans, I decide this will become my new out-of-the-home writing spot and I will be a local that will soon become a regular, maybe even with my own regularly reserved table where I will drink lattes and write all the things.
I would belong there.
When it comes to belonging, I know everyone says it, or at least feels it, at one time or another. We all struggle to belong somewhere. I am no exception.
I think of myself as a bit of a misfit and I have claimed the title with pride, though I live with feelings of not being enough or those of embarrassment a lot.
I want to blend in, to belong there, to belong anywhere. I want to be just another customer.
Customer. Decor. Furniture.
In the cafe today I was finding my way back to my table, after paying the bill, but before eating my dessert. I do hope to come often enough that soon enough I know my way around, but this was only my third time.
Friends either give me their arm, speak directions, or suddenly I am on my own, just me and my white cane.
It taps the metal of table legs and people stare.
Okay, so I don’t know if they do, or if they are nervous I might knock a table over or what, or maybe neither. Today, either way, one of the staff silently pushed me from behind in the name of guidance.
They didn’t do this violently or rudely, just in an attempt to show me how to find my table again.
And did I pull away, whirl around, and correct them, asking them not to put their hands on me without saying something?
Did I say politely that wasn’t the right way to go about that, to help the blind costumer who’d just spent $40 at their establishment?
No and no. I continued to use my cane to find my place and I sat down to enjoy my mini Oreo cheesecake.
I can’t just expect people to know the proper procedure, but it’s hard to explain, n the proper tone, in the moment.
I definitely don’t know how to blend in, to be just another customer, to feel like I fit in, when I feel like an object that must be moved. I say I feel like a misfit, or like a piece of miscellaneous furniture they move into its proper spot in their cafe so I am not in the way.
But do I even go with the rest of the place’s decor?
I should have explained why silently pushing me from behind was not the way to help someone, me, who can’t see. Somewhere inside I have the urge to whip around and tell them to take their hands off me. Or, that they should at least say something before doing it.
Anger and rudeness isn’t the answer. I want to soon be a regular there, to support the community, and to eat good food. Maybe I will even write great things there.
First, I must become comfortable there, with all them, and they must become comfortable with me too.
I want to belong somewhere, a community, even its businesses, such as interesting cafes like those you hear about in Paris, where people drink their lattes, observe people, and write.
Okay, so Woodstock is no Paris, but right now, I am the blind woman who clearly hasn’t figured out her way around quite yet. Friends don’t always know how to help and staff doesn’t yet know me either. If I wait, let time do its thing, I can hope to belong there, the woman who comes in with her laptop and her stick once a week, to her reserved people watching/writing/latte drinking table in the corner.
I can hope. I can dream.
I can do that. I can be. I can belong.
Finish the Sentence Friday:
I belong at this end-of-the-week blog exercise. I am back where I belong.