A Cafe Latte Story

She looked back. There’s no one there. But she could’ve sworn she felt that someone was there. Someone she knew very well, someone whose smell is too familiar, too dear, to her. But there was none. She continued ordering her coffee – cafe latte with a dash of vanilla syrup and cinnamon powder on top. She thought for a second and added a blueberry cheese muffin to her order.

As she walked towards the pick-up counter, she glanced around the cafe, reconfirming her previous thought. Nope, he’s not here. She picked up her order and walked up to her usual spot – in the corner, where she can have a good view of the cafe and of the buzzing street outside, without anyone noticing her.

Sipping her cafe latte, she thought of the many things that have happened in this cafe, in this exact same spot for the past two years, when he had introduced her to this little cafe owned by a charming old lady whose passion is coffee. She had finished reading dozens of books, her thesis, seven of her published short stories, one novel, and a relationship. She smiled at that thought. A bitter smile.

Funny how life unravels. She always hated grammar and always got a C for English throughout school, and yet here she is now. A writer. That has actually been published. She never liked blueberry, she thought that it tasted too bland, lacking the characteristic if compared to its sisters – strawberry and raspberry. But she finds blueberry cheese muffin heavenly. Somehow the blueberry has finally found a place where it belongs and fully being itself in a muffin, accompanied by cheese!

And she has always been a good girl – never smoked, only drinks on special occasion, never tries out many different hairstyles, clubs, or anything for that matter. She’s always the observer, not the doer. And, somehow, she managed to fall head over heels over a saxophonist in a band who doesn’t enjoy a steady, stable life. And she was happy. Very happy.

It’s hard to believe that her happiness started with a cup of cafe latte. And then ended over the same thing, just 10 months after.  What went wrong, she thought? Nothing. Nothing went wrong. They were happy, they loved each other, they enjoy each other’s company. But they just can’t last. They just have to end. There’s no way in the world that they would last.

She tried to think harder, of any reason why they just can’t last. Did they have fun differently? Did they hurt each other? Did they like music that’s just too different for each other to cope with? She shook her head. No. The answer to those is no. And then she realized why they can’t last and why they just can’t be. And it made her shiver.

She was submerged into him. She became his shadow. She listened to music that he liked, read books that he suggested, thought the way he’d wanted her to, had the attitude similar to his, hung out the way he would – with his friends, until 4am, going to posh bars & lounges. She lost herself into him. And before that, she never quite understood that phrase – “losing yourself”. How could one lose oneself??

And then she understood. She had lost herself into him. Without even realizing it. She had only became conscious of that when it had ended. Why she had ended it, she didn’t quite understand. It just felt right to end it back then. Over a cup of cafe latte. It was only later when she browsed through her iPod that she realized that it was all his songs. A glance over her book shelves also revealed that it was all his books. And all the things she did in that past 10 months! It was all done under one consideration that he would approve of them, that it is what he’d wanted her to do. All her decision was based on his. She had indeed lost herself.

She took a bite of the muffin, and then a sip of the cafe latte. She likes the taste of muffin mixed with coffee – a balanced bitter-sweet symphony. Her eyes wandered around. She realized that the shiver was gone and replaced by content.

Having lost herself in him, she finally grasped it. It was necessary to lose herself before finding herself. Being immersed in him made her understand herself better – what she wants, what she really likes, what music she enjoys, what moral standards she has, and who she really is. She doesn’t like jazzy music, she likes folk music. She doesn’t enjoy philosophy too much. She is not the heavy-thinker he made her believe she is, she’s a practical person. She’s her. Not him.

She looked outside the street. Busy as always. A bus just stopped, and half a dozen people came out of the bus. Two teenagers laughing. A girl in her suit. A middle-aged man carrying a folded newspaper. Another girl, probably 4-months pregnant. And another guy. She smiled to herself. That’s him.

Her smile widened as he crossed over the street towards the cafe. She took one last bite of her muffin, and one last sip of her coffee and indulge the bitter-sweet symphony. She watched him ordered a tall americano and a scone. She packed her things. He waited at the pick-up counter and glanced around to see if the corner spot is occupied. She stood up by the table and smiled. Their eyes met and he smiled. He picked up his order and walked towards her.

Hi! It’s been a while! | Yes, indeed it has. How’re you? | Fine, how are you? | Great. | Yeah, you look great. | Thanks, I was just on my way out, so you feel free to sit here.

She picked up her tray, put it in its place, and walked out of the cafe. She smiled. Funny how life unravels.

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