I’ve been working so much lately that I kind of forgot that life should be enjoyable as well as profitable. Also, winter tends to take me down a dark, frigid hole of existential dreariness. Dramatic sounding, I know, but then I’ve always been prone to exaggeration. Anyway, this downward, sunless spiral is very nearly imperceptible while it’s happening; I never realize how down I am until Daylight Savings rolls around and suddenly I feel happy again. I love getting off work and knowing there’s still a good hour of sunlight left. I guess you could say that winter makes me feel like a hibernating bear – a cranky, depressed hibernating zombie bear, that is. Remind me never to move to Alaska or Scandinavia. I can’t even handle mild Virginia winters. I’m solar-powered.
But things are starting to get better. The days are getting longer and warmer and life seems good again. On Saturday morning, I decided to treat myself and checked out Bayou Bakery in Rosslyn. I ordered a latte and chocolate croissant and sat at the bar. I hate bar stools because I am short and wide, which makes it a struggle to get on the stool…and when I finally manage to get on, it feels like a struggle to stay on. But it was more of a brunch-type place than a coffeehouse and I didn’t feel comfortable taking up a whole table. I sat (or teetered, more like) next to a middle-aged, serious-looking man with that recently divorced dude look (he seemed lost and unsure…dad jeans paired with artsy, aspirational glasses) and a couple in their early twenties who were obviously in that exciting, early stage of their relationship. Or perhaps in that awkward, hung-over phase of their hookup. Who knows?
I pulled out the Swedish mystery novel I’ve been reading and read between periods of people watching for almost an hour. It was delightful. For a moment it was like I’d gone back in time to some 1950s blue-collar diner but the café was buzzing with those very specifically and modern Arlington/D.C area brunch-types with hipster-light sensibilities and yuppie-heavy ambitions. Every table was taken because if Washingtonians have one uniting belief, it is that brunch is the best thing ever. Cajun music played in the background accompanied by the lilting hum of collective conversation and punctuated intermittently by baristas calling out orders. I felt like I was there as both an observer and participant, an urban anthropologist observing the natives up close, but also contributing to and participating in the unfolding scene in my own quiet way. You could say I was having a moment.
Because places – when they feel authentic or representative of something – are so central and meaningful to me, it was lovely being in this particular spot on this particular morning on this particular day. It wasn’t the best coffee or croissant I’ve ever had, but it was a completely enjoyable experience; an hour of people watching, coffee-drinking and Swedish mystery novel-reading (although I never want to live in Scandinavia I am intrigued by it). I was in such a good mood that the stool situation didn’t even get in the way of my enjoyment.
The simple, small things are so much more enjoyable to me when it’s above freezing outside.