Patterns. I hear patterns. There’s the mess of too much chart music played at full volume from three different shops and two different bars, punctuated by an alarm ringing somewhere. It’s over stimulation at it’s finest. It’s too much noise, forcing people to hurry up and wait because they can’t leave and they can’t go until commanded. It’s delays in a place where no one wants to be delayed. It’s pure noise; the people stuck behind countertops and shiny bars that must be polished and polished and dirtied again by that drunk, leering busniessman and the tired parents eating pizza at 9:45 AM with three children in tow, under the age of ten. It’s too loud for them and not sterile enough. It’s fake.
There is order and synchronicity. A pattern. That song from the boutique is the same one I haven’t heard since I lived in Boston, but that appeared on my playlist this morning. It used to be hard to hear, make me physically ill, thinking of the time in my life I played its accompanying album over and over and over. “Give me something to believe,” The Bravery crooned and I used to run on and on for hours – past Boston University down to the water by Fenway. Never into The Fens though. Boston, back then, had cleaned up bright, shiny and new, but one still did not go into The Fens, particularly if one was an unassuming female jogger. Too many huge bushes, you see. Too much obstruction from the busy road and stately silent brownstones – could anyone really call them home any longer?
Nothing is clean, here, this place I am in. Everything has been touched by a thousand hands, sometimes washed, sometimes unclean, invisible touches layered on top of one another, making smooth surfaces sticky and reflective areas smeared. In the bathroom’s silence, I grab an extra paper towel before touching faucets, pressing the soap dispenser. Ebola, you see. All the breathing and the bodily fluids from lord knows where is unsettling. It’s a human dischord where everyone is isolated and no one smiles, especially now since there are ipads everywhere.
They said I’d be in gusty winds later that day, in the chill of a new place with which I haven’t yet have the chance to layer any of my own presence. They said it would be colder, but these breezes are nothing compared to a windy day in Newcastle, or a stormy night in my house where the gales would slam into the windows, shaking the panes, flinging slate tiles off the roof. Fashion was futile, hairstyles would be ruined in the space of moments; the wind made the children wild, our teacher said and we laughed manically back at her, genuine and forced laughter on top of one another, too much in the weather’s insanity. I feel for my poor teacher. There were more windy days than calm.
Then there was music again. There was “Psycho Killer,” and The Beatles and David Bowie in a more-than-coincidental mirror to the ways I’d heard the same songs earlier that morning. They wove neatly in the background to coffee smells, laughter, the whirr of an espresso machine. They paused politely at just the right moment for the bridge circle’s comments to be heard across the room. They didn’t interrupt friendly conversation; the elderly woman speaking helpfully, hopefully to the tired young mother with three children who had to set an alarm on her phone as a reminder of the time she needed to leave to arrive at her oldest daughter’s school. The device blared with urgency, and she collected her brood, smiling a tired smile in my direction before saying her goodbyes.
There was more music. I looked up in time to hear that “Give me something to believe” closed out whatever set or playlist had been selected on the iPod, hidden behind coffee cups and beans. I noticed there were a few crumbs on the table. I brushed them away with a napkin and put my mug down on the smooth surface.
“I didn’t need these things. I didn’t need them.”