Early last year, I was sitting in a coffee shop doing my thing. And by my thing, that meant twiddling with my keyboard, trying to crank out an eloquent profile piece and forcing my brain to feel anything other than uninspired, blase, and bored.
And then she caught my eye — the young woman sitting at the table adjacent from me. Alone, Asian, shoulder-length straight black hair, petite. Average, for that part of town at least. But there was something about her body language that seemed off, sad, or defeated, or both.
She was crying, her body heaving up and down in grief or despair.
And I, of course, stared, now mesmerized at the display of raw emotion. She looked so isolated, so alone, so pained.
Her hands were clasped together in a fist like she was praying and by her hands, there was a thick book, also red, with gold letters on the binding. It looked worn out, as if it was a metaphor for her state of being: tired and exhausted.
As she flipped through the pages, I saw glimpses of heavy annotations; the book, I assumed, is a long-time friend. I went back to my work, an hour passes and she’s still there. Her iced coffee is untouched but by now her tears are mostly gone. The reading seems to have calmed her down. She gets up, closes the book, takes her coffee, and leaves the shop.
It’s been a year since that happened but I revisit that memory a lot. I think of the girl and her grief and how much she reminded me of myself. I’ve had moments like hers many times in my life and well, haven’t we all?
Those moments, when we’re so consumed by emotion that the world seems like a blur. Loneliness is at its peak and so we go searching within ourselves or within a piece of literature or a certain quote for comfort.
Struggling to come to terms with our new realities but completely blind to the fact that we aren’t alone in our struggles.
“Loneliness is the most unloneliest feeling in the world, as everyone has gone through it.” — Jarod Kintz.
All she — we — needed to do was look up.