I’m sitting in a coffee shop in one of my favorite boroughs of the city. To get here I drove the highway that tucks in next to the buildings, like a cat rubbing itself around your legs. It has a gorgeous view of downtown; of brick and glass, dripping with old railroad character and the life choices of an adolescent metropolis in the middle of finding itself. I look at it, and in one second the light shines just right, and I love it. The deep throbbing, your heart might burst clear out of your chest, kind of love. I saw those buildings and in them I saw stories and characters. I saw brick-layers working to feed their families, an entrepreneur’s eyes bright with hope and new beginnings. I saw architects w0rking anxiously at their ‘last chance’ projects, and the man who’s chances are all spent. And I loved them.
I loved the buildings whose walls hold those histories.
Do you know what it’s like to be an Optimist?
[Is this an optimist thing? An INFJ thing? Just me?]
Being an optimist means falling in love in a second, over and over and over again; seeing light and hope and futures in every sun glint, every crunched leaf, every tree-lined sidewalk. I fall in love with each heart beat, each breath, everywhere I look; loving everything. That woman pushing a stroller with tired eyes and hair like curtains around her beautiful face. That man with kind eyes cycling across the street. The young bud of a woman before me. She’s practiced all the poses of maturity, executing them masterfully as her eyes search every face for a sign that they bought her act, and thus find value in her voice. This girl, whose heart sinks deeper into her chest, away from light and love, with one eyebrow raise from her mother. And because I fell in love with her in a moment, in a moment I’m also breathless and aching, my heart sinking just like hers.
The curse of loving everything, I guess.
I’ve found I take genuine offense when people talk badly about things, as if they were my own creation. After all, they were someone’s creation, someone’s brainchild, someone’s passion. I get even more angst when someone talks, or even feels, negatively about another person. I feel strongly, as if they were my own kin. For they are someone’s kin. Someone birthed them, someone carried them, someone loves them, and someone hopes for them. There’s no room for strangers here. Just people I love, and don’t yet have a name by which to call them. I want to know their stories. I want to ache with them and rejoice with them. I don’t want to fix them. Anything that needs fixing would need someOne much stronger than I. But I’d love to listen. I’d love to sit across the table and stare into their eyes as they brim with tears of a hope that is starting to believe someone sees them. I’d love to see their eyes light up as they talk about what quickens their pulse and gets them up in the morning. I’d love to see their stories pour out in sobs that puddle on the table. If we were having coffee I’d toy at those water drops with my finger. I’d pull at them, manipulating their shape. I’d separate them and merge them as I listened to your story. Slowly your sobs would cease. You’d take in a deep breath and let it out slowly, by which saying, “There it is, all I have and all I am. There I am in puddles on the table.” And I hope you’d look down to see those drops have made a gorgeous mosaic, reflecting the blue sky above us and the lamp beside us. Before you on your table would be the stained glass masterpiece of your beautifully broken story. You’d look up at me and a smile would tug at your cheek because you know I see it too.
Little woman, little beloved girl at the brink of your life, if I was having coffee with you’d I’d let you talk about whatever you wanted. And I’d let you talk about it however long you’d want. I’d study your face to find what makes you tick, why you love what you love and hate what you hate. Your talking would be music to my ears and a song in my soul, and I’d never want you to stop. Because your soul is a song that deserves to be sung, and its a song that deserves to be heard. I’d hear you, and I’d love you there.
If we were having coffee, your phone would ring too soon and your mom would call you home. I’d look at you with a sad smile and you would too. I’d never have to see you again, but I’d always love you the same as I do in this moment. You’d walk on with your life, and I’d walk on with mine, but our hearts would walk together for a moment after we part, and I’d feel in mine the aching of your soul. I’d lift you up to the King who is crazy about you and ask that He doesn’t leave you alone.
He wouldn’t, of course. He had coffee with us too.