Thursday, December 17, 2009

character sketch

Before I could even see if the person was male or female. Before I could see the neon green running shoes or the shiny incredibly fake red fur of the hat and the just as equally fake, glowing in its whiteness, fur brim. Before any of that, what I saw through the window of the coffee store, were twinkling tiny Christmas lights, shimmering and glowing as if they were hanging outside in the wind.

But they weren't.

I blinked and looked again. Yes, the lights were moving now. Yes, the lights were surely on a person unless the coffee shop had decided to install and human sized mechanical dancing skinny tree of some kind. Because I couldn't see any branches and the sign behind which the lights were peeking out was too thin for the tree to have any volume at all.

But the glare on the window prevented me from seeing who or what the lights were hanging on and why they were now dancing. I opened my car door, got out, and stepped back to close the door. That was the moment the neon green shoes came in to view. Then a peak of the red hat from over the sign.

A couple people moved closer and I saw blue jeans approach the counter and the barister laughing. As I approached the door, I could see clearly that the laughter was of familiarity and fondness, not fake like the Santa hat or mocking like the evil grinning elf hanging by a thread in the window.

Two young children rushed in the door just ahead of me and ran to her. She laughed with them and talked and then their mother came a few minutes later.

When the woman with lights sat at a table, the children came to her and listened to her stories. Other customers came and went and many of them approached her, greeted her, and listened as she explained her upcoming volunteer gig, or the one she had to turn down, or the friend she was going to deliver a meal to tomorrow.

A not quite jingling presence whom almost everyone seemed to know.

Confidently sitting at the table, working in her pencil puzzle book. sipping coffee and juice. With a smile and a story for every interruption.

Happy to be sitting here in the middle of the comings and goings. Happy to greet another face and know somebody cares.