Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Keep it down now, voices carry.

Last night I was working a dinner shift at the cafe - something that hasn't happened in a long time. Our restaurant - and this island in general, tends to wind things down pretty early. Visitors to the island are all experiencing some sort of jet leg, since in Hawaii we are several time zones away from everywhere else. People who live here generally have to work - sometimes several jobs - and so most are up early. And we live in a place where outdoor activities take precedence in many lifestyles, so people are out at dawn to catch the surf before work, or get in a swim, or a run.....the weather is hardly ever nasty, and regular outdoor time is a part of everyone's routine. So we turn in early around these parts, is what I am trying to say

And my point was........what. Hm. Oh yes, early. So the cafe closes fairly early most nights, usually we are serving our last dinner at around 8 or 9pm. Last night, all of the tables cleared out by about 8pm. We were discussing whether to close, or hang out for a bit and see what happened - and a couple walked through the door. They seemed pretty chipper. They were excited to have some indian food. I was excited to have customers. It was a mutual admiration society of the first order.

They ordered some chai. Then some samosas. They were chatting and sipping and I put the order in and then, in the quiet of the cafe, where there was only one table - voices were raised.

Ut Oh.

I tried not to look. I didn't want to look. I didn't want to know. I definitely didn't want to listen.

What I wanted to do was crawl under a rock somewhere far far away and have someone else bring them their food.

If they stayed that long, that is.

So I was standing there, staring at the computer long after the order had been sent, willing myself to stay strong. To stay detached. To stay aloof and oblivious and professional and friendly but not appear curious in ANY WAY.

I took a few deep breaths and focused on the menu screen in front of me.

This is not you. You are not living that life anymore. You don't have fights in restaurants. You don't slam dishes on the table, and bang your silverware down for emphasis. Not any more. Not you.
This is not your fight.

It was me, you know.

12, 15 years ago? It was me. I was in love and angry and young and hot tempered and big mouthed and I didn't have boundaries and oh, boy, could I yell.

I mean, I still can - but in general I keep it private, not in public. (Oh, the neighbors. Sorry guys. Yeah, I keep it mostly private. Let's just say I keep it in the neighborhood.)

So tonight, when I heard the raised voices, it was the craziest, wildest deja vu moment ever. I knew exactly what was being said without hearing a thing. The low, angry tones, rising to the yelling. The questions asked loudly, the answers muttered. The glares. The final pronouncement. The grand exit, purse in hand. The squealing tires and the lone figure left in the booth looking defeated and pissed and mortified.

And then I had to approach the table, knowing all that had just gone down - I mean, I couldn't ignore it, could I. She wasn't THERE anymore. Her samosas left untouched. Her chai gone cold. It was, in a word, awkward.

I held out the check, and a take out box, asking only "Are you ready for these?" in a voice just barely above a whisper. She had been the angry one - there was no anger here at the table anymore......just a face that was a mix of grief and frustration. I couldn't tell if he was upset with the girl, or with himself. I didn't want to know, I just wanted it to be over. I wanted to lock the doors on that cool rainy night and go home to my mellow, loving, goofy and forever patient husband, stretched out on the couch hoping for a bite of my leftover chicken curry and maybe a cuddle before bed.

That's not me anymore. That is not my life. I can go home.

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