The following was written and contributed by Keira-Anne
I needed to share a story – any story. After some consideration, however, I realized that not just any story would do. Perhaps I could trick myself into finding inspiration. My desk was scattered with random papers, a can of half-drank Dr. Pepper my cell phone and a bottle of nail polish – on hand for random touch-ups. I pushed my chair away from the mess and stood up to stretch out. Walking to the window, I was greeted with nothing but the first few drops of a warm summer rainfall. “Comfort,” I thought to myself. Rain has always been my friend.
Stepping away from the window and towards the stereo, I popped in something The Police recorded before I was even born. Anything in an attempt to rid “Super Trouper” from looping over and over again in my head. I tapped my nails on the edge of my speaker shelf with a rhythm any percussionist would be impressed with. Nope, ABBA’s still hanging on. I paced. I nursed what was left of my diet soda. I walked into my miniscule bathroom and stared at my skin very closely in the mirror. I paced some more until finally deciding to shove my feet into sneakers, grab my keys and shut the front door behind me.
By now, the summer raindrops had turned into a summer downpour. Pulling my hoodie up over my head, I gently tucked the few stray brunette tresses inside the hood and behind my ears. The rain still dropped on the tip of my nose. My walk turned into a slow jog; one block, two blocks, three blocks and I arrived at my destination. New York had been my home for a little under three years, but sometimes it felt like three days. Thankfully, and very graciously, I had found a respite or two that reminded me of the people I left at home in the midwest.
New Yorkers are an interesting breed, and over time, I found myself assimilating with them more and more. I learned the hard way that it’s often difficult to hold on to who you are; most times it’s expected that you can’t or you won’t. It has, in fact, become a survival instinct to me. But that’s another story, and not the story I wanted to share.
I pulled myself up onto a stool that had certainly seen better days. If only sparkly vinyl could talk. The Moonbeam Cafe was one of those respites I told you about. It was a place that only a few knew about, but those who did were fiercely loyal. Sometimes the drunk college kids would stumble in at 3:00 a.m. after a night of vodka redbulls and draft beer, but most were often too intoxicated to remember in the morning where their bellies full of bacon and eggs came from. The decor was tacky at best, the food was equally greasy and satisfying at the same time, the coffee was perfection and you could undoubtedly rely on meeting some of the most interesting people each and every time. None of those were the reason I went to the Moonbeam Cafe. I went to the Moonbeam Cafe for Ruthie.
Ruthie easily had 30 years on me and more experience in her lifetime than I could ever imagine. Her face was full of lines – mostly from joy, somet from heartache. She had silver hair that was still soft and graceful, which she always had pinned into a loose bun. Her uniform was the same each day, a polyester creation of cream and turquoise. Despite the fact that she was at least 54, Ruthie still exuded the youthfulness of someone younger than even myself. Her beauty, to me, was in the mixture of her experience, wisdom and youthful spirit.
“I’m stuck,” I announced as she poured my first pot of steaming caffeine. “I’m wracking my brain and need to write the perfect story, but all I do is walk back and forth in my apartment with disco in my head.”
Ruthie giggled her gentle laugh and said “you never fail, sweetheart. You push yourself every single time but always manage to find something beautiful to share.” I appreciated her encouragement but was secretly disappointed that she didn’t share one of her famous Ruthie-isms…something I’d almost come to rely on in hopes that a word or two of hers would spark an entire idea. “What is it you want to write about?” she asked.
“That’s just it, I don’t even know. Usually I’m inspired by anything – even this coffee! But even right now, I look at it, and it’s coffee in a mug.” Over the next 45 minutes or so, I lamented further while Ruthie kept the coffee coming. I waved the white flag. I am 24 years old – who was I to have anything of significance to offer through my words? My eyes had beheld some sights in their time, my heart a couple cycles through the wringer, but none of it monumental enough to me. I slurped down the last of mug number three and paid for for it with the changed I had stuffed in my pocket. I stepped towards the door, but not before Ruthie came over to give me a motherly squeeze. I needed those. She winked and said “let me read it when you’re done, kiddo.” I always showed my drafts to Ruthie and she always felt the need to remind me to do so.
The rain had stopped by now. I skipped through a few puddles, walking the three blocks back to my second floor walk-up. The door flew open, I kicked off my sneakers and made my way back to the computer desk. I drummed my fingers on the keyboard with preciseness. I needed to share a story.