Kamilah Ricketts I @brickpages
That day you are determined to get to class on time. You get up an hour
earlier and take the quickest shower you can. You get dressed and refuse to get into it with your little sister when you realize she stole the shirt you planned on wearing. You throw your bag on your back and run down the stairs. The bus driver that you swear has it out for you will not leave you behind today! That way you can walk calmly to class instead of running. It will
be a long bus ride, but you are used to it; you’ve been going to school across town for a while now. While you shuffle to the bus stop, a newly renovated storefront catches your eye. Curiosity pulls you in.
The café has a sort of hipster air about it. Exposed brick wall with wooden beams going across the ceilings. A menu is written fancily on a
chalkboard to build a sort of chill ambiance, but once you get a good look at it you consider marching right back out of the place. But you don’t
because maybe high prices are necessary because the organic coffee
beans came straight here from exotic places like Morocco, Hawaii and
Arabia. You want to be down because it’s brand-new in your neighborhood and people your age go there to chill, so maybe you’ll come back when you get paid.
At first, you were excited; they only have things like this downtown
and finally, you can get your lattes and americanos on your way to school instead of when you get to school. The neighborhood is changing, you tell yourself. It’s a good thing. It's about time. On the weekends there will finally be a decent café to sit in and do your work because you can’t focus at home with your mom and little sister and brother in
the house. Even if they weren’t home, you know your best friend will just let himself into your house, at some point, because he swears, he won’t bother you. This café is the answer; if you don’t tell anyone about it, you will be more productive. On your way to school, you don’t really notice the new people on the bus with you, but you do notice that new bike lane. Great! Now you don’t have to worry about your little brother getting hit by a car when he’s riding his bike all over the neighborhood.
Then the weekend comes, and you are more than ready to be around the vibes of people who are in that café. Working people with their laptops, headphones in, sipping lattes from big orange mugs, each with a tiny leaf inscribed in the foam. Finally, people of like mind! On the way, you notice that the USA diner has started to offer a boozy brunch; nice, you think, definitely have to try that out. When you walk in you notice that people look at you peculiarly. It isn’t a look of hatred or dislike, it’s more of an “...oh, okay. You’re here too” look. You place your order with the not-so-friendly bearded barista and quickly scan the area for a seat. There are people in basically every seat. It seems to you that everyone has a sleek silver laptop and white headphones in their ears. You find a sliver of a couch that causes you to be smushed between a girl and a wall. When you finally sit, you’re shy about taking out your black laptop. It doesn’t fit in with the rest of them.
Then the barista walks over with your latte with a leaf on it in an orange mug, and it doesn’t feel as good as you thought it would.
You look around the café and watch how everyone else is working and eating. Do you drink first? Do you drink coffee and work at the same time? Is there a special way to hold the mug? You don’t need your body language to stick out too much because you’re about to take out your big black laptop and that will be enough. Once you do try to pull out your things, the girl next to you stops typing to wait for you to stop fumbling around. You start to feel pressure to get yourself together. Your body starts to perspire as you try to relax. You feel the need to apologize and then realize that you don’t want to. Why should you? You start to feel that you are trying too hard to fit in. This should feel better than it does, this should be easier than it is.
You pull out your hot pink headphones and try on the working nonchalance you feel in the air. You start to do your research and once you start to get into the groove of what you are doing, your laptop sends a message that it only has ten percent battery left and if you don’t want to lose all of your work you will have to plug it in right now. Of course, there is no outlet next to you; but there is one about a foot away. The thought of digging in your bag and moving again brings a wave of anxiety, and with
it, the beginnings of a migraine. Instead, you try to quietly slide your laptop into your bag and attempt to slip out of the seat without disturbing anyone.
But of course, the girl next to you stops typing again and glares at you.
Practically running to the door, you feel the eyes of almost everyone in the cafe over their silver laptops. Now you’re faced with a decision: do you glare back and say something slick, or do you put your hood on and walk faster? You choose the latter
As you walk home, you wonder why you feel the way you do, and then you realize that the café was not made for you. Neither was the brunch that your favorite
diner started serving. Neither was the bike lane made for your little brother. Suddenly, it feels like you don’t belong where you grew up anymore and you wonder when and how it happened. You round the corner
which brings your two-family house into view along with your best friend sitting on the stoop. The waves in his hair glisten in the spring sunshine while he scrolls around on his phone.
You try to think of what it would be like if you had to move away and leave him and quickly push the thought from your brain. You decide right there that you aren’t
"We will just have to adjust.”
Edited by Lois Oginni