The Child sings in a choir, which means I shuttle her to rehearsals as well as concerts. The first year she sang with the choir – about three years ago – she had a fall concert in the Ravenna neighborhood of Seattle, which I don’t know well. She had to be delivered for practice and then the concert followed two hours later.
Basically, this left The Departed and me with two hours to kill in an unfamiliar neighborhood; this being Seattle, we decided a cup of coffee was in order. He suggested we go get some coffee at Starbucks.
We walked from the concert hall toward an area where I thought we’d passed some shops on the way.
After a couple of blocks, we saw some small shops, and crossed the street to check them out. One of them was a coffee shop with a funky vibe: mismatched chairs and a handwritten sign announcing free wifi within. Hipster types were scattered about with lattes and laptops. We both looked in the window.
We can get coffee here, I said. Shall we try it?
He said nothing, and simply kept walking in the same direction as before.
After a couple more blocks, I asked what we were looking for.
You said there was a Starbucks up this way, he said.
It wasn’t what I said, but it being Seattle, it was probably a correct statement, so I kept silent and we kept walking.
Finally we saw a Starbucks sign, and sure enough, there was one: inside a supermarket. With no seats. The kind of Starbucks where you grab your latte on the way back out to your car. Not the kind where you sit and relax and have a nice chat over a cup of coffee because you have two hours to kill.
Well, he said, let’s get a cup of coffee.
There’s no place to sit, I said.
Well, there aren’t any other Starbucks around here, he said.
What was wrong with the little coffee place we passed? I demanded.
We didn’t pass any coffee place, he said firmly.
Not only did we pass it, I told him, you looked in the window.
No, I didn’t.
I think I must be mistaken because he’s adamant: We passed no coffee shop. But we walk back toward the concert hall because I refuse to stand in a supermarket with a latte in my hand.
He doesn’t understand that the acquisition of a cup of coffee is not the actual point of getting a cup of coffee.
We pass the coffee shop again on the way back. This coffee shop, I tell him. What was wrong with this? There are seats and actual ceramic cups.
It wasn’t here before, he says.
It was here and you looked in the window, I say. I see a bit of a light flicker but it isn’t a light of remembrance, it’s a light of realization that his version of events is utterly implausible. Nobody built a coffee shop and filled it with hipsters and wifi in the last five minutes.
I don’t know how that happened, he said. Why didn’t you say something instead of walking around looking for Starbucks?
I did, I tell him, but then I turn my attention to the free wifi and my iPad. The coffee here may be amazing, but it is no longer possible for me to enjoy it.
I mention all of this because on the first weekend of the New Year, The Child announced that her resolution was to do more bike riding, meaning I got to load up the bikes and drive us to the bike trail. I’m fine with this as the weather is halfway decent and I’ve been itching to get out and enjoy it. Once I remember how to load the bikes on the rack and recover from nearly putting the handlebar through my rear window, we go off riding.
It’s a great ride, a bit chilly but we spot a hawk high in the bare tree branches looking for his lunch. The trail is fairly empty so it’s a nice peaceful ride: us, the hawk, some ducks here and there, and the occasional other cycler or dog walker. We go as far as we can north, then turn and backtrack to my car.
As we head south, we pass The Departed, cycling north.
I look right in his face. We are the only people around.
He does not see me, nor the child whose stepfather he was for eight years.
He does not see anything he did not expect to see.
Which explains why he never really saw me, either.