I visited my new favorite bakery to get a caffeine fix and ward off the headache I can feel creeping up on me. At the table I’m facing are five people. Really, at the table are two. Three more scatter around the floor attached with invisible strings to the two at the table, each playing independently. They are not loud or ruckus, but also very busy. The two at the table, their mothers, are engaged in conversation while simultaneously attending to the smaller three.
I turn my attention to my Wordle and my coffee.
Occasionally, one of the three drifts too far up the aisle of tables and is steered back by their corresponding adult. I am interrupted once to borrow the unused chair at my table, and another time to receive a green Lego. Otherwise, we each stay in our own worlds.
Somehow, this interaction, or non-interaction, brings a sense of satisfaction that followed me for a while. I think it’s the idea that we were able to exist in the same space with very different agendas, different needs, and came away undamaged. I intentionally opened my mind to give them space to be kids in a space that wasn’t ideal for it. I didn’t try to engage with either mothers or children, realizing they were all busy with their own activities. We simple existed next to each other.
This is the world I want to live in. A world where I am obliged to share space with people different than me. A world where I rub elbows with people I have less in common with. Where I can get to know them better or simply accept them and in turn be accepted.
I realize that there are others who can’t move as freely in the world as a mother and child. Those who need to scan the room, check over their shoulders, or watch their words. I also know that there are times to step up or step in.
That morning though, I was grateful to simply share a sacred space: theirs a play date; mine a coffee spot.