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The Village

By Maggie Turner


November 20, 1999

The Village

 8::30 a.m. Attila was sleeping when I left to go walking this morning. He has worked every day since August 30, 1999, until today. He was round and warm and smiling in his sleep when the door closed behind me.

The city we live in is small and ultra-conservative. The population is disproportionately rich (the few very rich are provided with a lovely "toy town" in which to live), poor (social assistance), mentally ill (large mental institutions are closing down and "freeing" the ill to the streets) and smiling (hoping not to be confused with the poor or the mentally ill). To walk and enjoy oneself in this city is a challenge; one must appear middle class and smiling or be regarded as poor or mentally ill. I keep forgetting to smile; you would think I'd learn.

8:55 a.m. A Café in the The Village
When I travel it is usually by foot and therefore usually close to home. Today I sit in a local café drinking coffee and soaking in the atmosphere. My table hosts a small poinsettia in honor of the coming Christmas season. The table is small and round and clean. The owner is friendly and when he sees me taking pictures he comes over to look at and admire my "toy", the camera. Professional couples and gaggles of affluent 20-somethings populate the tables.

 coffee mug

The café where I sit is in The Village. The Village nestles close to the downtown of a medium sized city. Lots of specialty stores and doctors offices here. We have a butcher, a baker and a small grocery. People know or know of one another. I am the lady who plays the bodhran. I may become the lady who sits in the café alone with coffee and camera. I suspect I am known as the lady who wears overalls, because I always do.

 November Sky

 I have to admit that though the atmosphere in this café is friendly and warm, it is not wholesome. There is no more here than what meets the eye; the decor, the people are frozen in their glossy display. Overheard conversations are meant to be so, and are more impromptu performance art than personal interaction. My misfortune is that I am not the audience they seek to please, nor do I understand who that audience might be. Perhaps it is only themselves they seek to entertain.

Although there is charm in the comfortable, it can become cloying. In fact, my pen is slowing, caught in the cottony softness around me. I am starting to feel warm, too warm. It is becoming difficult to breath in the softness. I want to escape into the cold November rain. I leave quickly and walk home slowly through the unrehearsed rain. And home at last, I write here.


 

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