Despite a late start, I returned this morning to the local Panera to rejoin Bella as she acclimated to life in Forks and her new high school. While I was there, I studied some reading material my new friend gave me and took notes like she asked me to, trying to reach inside myself to grasp the full meaning of the words on these copied pages. Being there a little later than last week, I wasn't sure what kind of seats would be available to choose from. I started to feel some anxiety about the potential that there would be no seats. Before I knew it, though, I had ordered by coffee and turned to find that the two big comfy chairs in the corner were both empty. Without thinking twice, I claimed one of the soft, leather chairs which afforded me a full view of the back 3/4 of the restaurant, and an partial view of the counter where orders are placed.
Being no fashionista, I was first taken by the three young people in front of me in line. They looked to be in their mid-20's, young, confident, and probably fresh out of a morning church service. Perhaps not, though, given that the girl had a nicely fitting peacoat, which from behind only revealed the deep red fishnet stockings and snake skin high heels she was wearing. Her blonde curls rested at the top of the collar of the coat. Both of the guys were wearing sport coats, one with a nice new white pair of Adidas, a white dress shirt, and designer tie, the other in what looked like a suit with well worn dress shoes. The one in the suit ordered some bottled drink, and nodded to his cohort in confidence at how well he had ordered this drink, and offered that the guy touch the bottle to confirm that it was properly chilled. After confirming that they were putting all their choices on one tab, they settled up and retreated to their seating of choice.
I nestled into the brown leather chair and read my copied papers, took notes, and tried to absorb what I was learning. All the while, the restaurant was full of life and activity. A hispanic man and his son, who looked to be about 6 or 7, enjoyed some breakfast at a table facing my direction. One of the girls who probably acted as a cashier was on a break, and could easily have passed for a young Juliette Lewis. I kept looking over at her to confirm that it wasn't really Ms. Lewis, and it wasn't long before that was obvious. It seemed that I was in quite a coveted spot, as patrons passed the two brown chairs, turning quickly once they saw me seated in one of them. Sitting in comfortable, close proximity to others was obviously not a popular item on the menu this morning.
Suddenly, a woman breezed by me, and had I not taken a second look, I would have thought that she had chinchillas grasping her ankles, fighting for freedom. I'm all about warm boots, but these things looked like they were doing the walking for her. As she removed her coat and laid it on the bench seat she'd chosen, she revealed that she was probably returning from, or planning to go to, the gym. A tight, off the shoulder top offered a peak at a bright, thin strapped sports bra, and her black yoga pants offered a bit of explanation as to why the gym would have been a better choice than the breakfast she'd ordered here. Again, a mean thought, and I struck it from my mind. I digress.
As Bella found herself confronted, again, by Edward in a most confrontational fashion, a young mother entered the restaurant and perched her baby's carrier/car seat on the floor beside her. It wasn't long after her friend arrived that I learned that the little baby girl was 3 months old, wears size 6 months clothes, and there had been some family strife at the recent baptism of said baby. I lost the conversation when a 30-something couple arrived and sat at a table between myself and the young mother, encouraging their young son, probably about 2 or 3 years old, to try the breakfast quiche they were each enjoying. After his initial protests, he gave in, and his mom's voice expressed her obvious excitement that he'd ventured into this new territory of the quiche.
As I sat in the brown leather chair, I began to reel as I thought about all the things I needed to get done today, our being short of money, and felt guilty about the $2 and change which I'd spent on my coffee. Finances have been a big stressor for me recently, and knowing that there were only a few dollars left in my hidden jar of cash really adds to that stress.
A group of friends and I have challenged each other to get ahead of our Christmas shopping for 2010, hoping to purchase one gift each month until the holiday arrives (or more, if possible). I had grabbed some money this morning for my coffee, and for some possible gifts off the clearance tables at the Barnes and Nobel next door. Trying to purge the guilt from my mind, I headed to B&N and found the clearance table. The clearance tags had obviously done some good in the past 7 days, as the selection was greatly diminished, but, still offered some suitable choices.
As the table said the goods on it are now at 75% off, I chose two small puzzles which were reduced to $1.98 each, seeing them as stocking stuffers for Ethel and Fred. I let go of my guilt and took them to the register, feeling happy when I got change back from my $5 bill.
Knowing I was going home with two gifts, as well as some money still in my pocket helped ease my guilt. I am now two gifts ahead for this year's holiday season.
I took my coffee, my book, my stocking stuffers, and headed home. Me time accomplished, gifts purchased, money in my pocket. Not too bad for a Sunday morning of me time.