If we were having coffee right now, I would be smiling at the sight of you, as I stir in cream and sugar in my cup, as I try to momentarily cover up and forget the hundred sorrows I live behind the smile. These sorrows I could never bring to light, not to you, not to the world. I smile on because I have always been the girl who smiles, the one who always seems and who has always seemed Okay.
If we were having coffee right now, I would look past the glass wall (because we’d be sitting near the wall, of course), notice some humdrum detail of the outside world, and tilt my head towards it as I mention it to you. In response, you say something equally ordinary about this ordinary thing that I just pointed out, as do I. There is a brief exchange of words about a couple more ordinary things, and then a moment’s silence. Then you, or maybe I, come up with something witty or funny to say about these ordinary things, and we together laugh.
If we were having coffee right now, I would talk to you about my students, about things that happened in class last week, about the delights and frustrations of being a teacher. You too then share something that recently happened in your slice of the universe, maybe talk about a project, a task, or some other struggle you are currently grappling with. And then we try to rationalize all the hardships we’ve been having, This is for our dreams, we say. We’ve done more difficult things before, we assure ourselves. We’ve come back from worse, we remind each other. And we manage to convince ourselves, yes, we believe it: We are truly awesome people and we’ll make it. And we don’t say it, but we know, of course—this strength we have, this faith…this conviction that it’s all going to be Okay, this certainty that we have what it takes, and this knowledge of being Enough—we owe it from each other.
If we were having coffee right now, even silence between us would be comfortable, I know it. When you notice the soft music wafting across the room, you start to rock your head to its tune, a hint of a smile playing on your lips. Then you look out at the dimming skyline and motion towards it. Even the darkness is beautiful, you say.
If we were having coffee right now, and we were draining the last dregs of our cups, I am quite sure our last couple of minutes would go this way: The ordinary things we noticed and talked about in the first few moments of our meeting would be revisited in my mind, and would no longer seem so ordinary, not to me at least.
And I would probably smile, and this a real smile, thankful for you, you who makes me believe “okay” is possible, even for me.