Today I went to a little cafe I like in the city.
I don’t get into the city very often but when I do I like to visit this cafe.
I walked in today and the barista, a beautiful lady from York smiled at me.
“I nearly didn’t recognise you” she said. “You’ve grown your hair.”
“Well I haven’t cut it for a while so I guess that’s the same thing” I replied.
“Tell me about your trip. How was it?”
I’ve probably been to this cafe a total of 8 times in the past year or so but she remembered me.
She was so happy to see me and we spoke about the UK and what I saw and what I did on my trip.
After my first coffee I admitted I didn’t know her name.
It’s Alissa or Elissa. It’s hard to tell with accents.
She made me feel so welcome.
The fact that a near stranger could remember so much about me filled up a place in me that was nearly empty.
I asked if she’d planned any trips recently. Not that she would plan any trips because I remembered from the last time we spoke that she had gone on an impromptu trip only to arrive in a country with the incorrect visa.
I remember lots of things about lots of people in a way that usually surprises them.
So it was lovely to spend time with someone who had remembered me.
My second coffee was made of beans from Costa Rica. We both decided we should go there just to drink the coffee.
We talked about my plans for the day and I mentioned I was going to go to the gallery.
She asked if I was going to see the Scorsese exhibition.
Except she couldn’t pronounce his name properly and I wasn’t too sure either.
I went to the other gallery and saw a Degas (also not pronouncing that properly. Is an unpronounceable surname the key to being a great artist).
I paid extra for the audio commentary and had a slight panic attack when I got told off for standing in the members line and I’m not a member.
It turned out not to be the huge problem it was turning into in my head.
I walked through the exhibition slowly.
Kind of gliding in what I assumed was an arty way but in reality possibly looked like I’d sustained an injury that would require water aerobics as rehabilitation.
I felt serene and slightly smug.
Smug for being somewhere so lovely on my own.
Even though I quietly mocked the ladies with their knee high boots and jodhpurs. Well I did until I discovered that the artist painted race horses so maybe the women had an affinity with the work of Degas and weren’t just wearing silly clothes out of context.
There’s something about fancy art in a fancy place that makes you breathe deeper. Almost as if by breathing in all the reverence and beauty you’re actually getting smarter.
It was a lovely day.
A day I needed so badly.
A day of wearing sun glasses with a winter jacket.
A day for sipping hot chocolate from a paper cup in gardens full of trees with bare branches.
A day of me for me.
And I’m so very grateful that I could.