Monday, April 9, 2007

Love in the Franchise Cafe

A nerdy looking father takes his little girl to Starbucks for a late breakfast on Sunday morning. His daughter so sweet but not beautiful. She won't be the beautiful one in the classroom. But cute, of course; she's little, maybe 6 or 7, and she's loved. Oh my God she's loved.

They were sitting there, father and daughter, at the table next to mine, he with latte, she with her small hand round what for that little hand was a very large plastic cup of what looked like apple juice (or was it cold green tea). She also got a sugar donut that even for an adult would be considered big. She had to two-hand the thing to bring it to her mouth, wide open, and when she did she chomped with excited little teeth.

Ai often tells me I'm staring. I do. I was. Eventually I returned to my own table, to text a message, to text a message of love from my keitai (cell phone) to Ai's - the aftermath of a fight. The love goes, you gotta bring it back.

And then I look over again at the table beside me. The little girl is across from me. I see her smiling in her father's direction. A big winner of an honest smile. Nothing asking or selling about it. Simply the truth in happiness of a smile, and she's holding her two fingers up peace symbol style. And for the briefest moment I cannot figure it out. Because for that moment I don't want to. It's her smile, the warmth of it. And when I break out of my trance and turn to see dad holding up his keitai to take a picture of his little girl, the whole thing, it's just the loveliest scene. And yet though they aren't remotely aware of me just then, I find I have to turn away. I find that the joy of their moment, a moment I've snuck into to feel so deep down it's to my feet I feel it so deep, I find it's just almost too much to bear. Like I want to cry. Like the palest pink popcorn that are the cherry blossoms on the sakura trees outside our apartment - and across this country in early April - that not ten days after they bloom are already starting to fall. The prettiest things. Want them to remain as we might they will not last. They cannot. Which is of course what makes them so precious. The Buddhism in the blossom. The love in the franchise cafe.

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