Look at my Belly Button!

April, 2018:

Down the street from Stone Way Cafe is MiiR, a coffee shop boasting sleek, hard benches, so much concrete construction there’s no cell reception, and and sour beers on tap. MiiR would never host an open mic. There’s a coworking space in the back for people to rent out, which is currently occupied by a handful of guys projecting lines of code on the wall. 

And then, there you are. You come out of the room, and it seems like you’re going to the trash can, but instead you come to me. 

“Excuse me, I’m sorry to ask this, but is there any way I could borrow your computer charger for a few minutes? My battery is at one percent.” 

You have black hair and almond eyes.

“No problem!” I say. But then, I think that comes off as too eager, like I’m a people-pleaser, like I have no boundaries, so I add, “But my battery is low too, so I’ll need it back soon.” 

“That’s fine,” you reassure me. “Thanks so much. I really appreciate it.” Then I feel bad for being inconsiderate and rigid, and shouldn’t I have charged my battery since I have a charger, in case someone else needs it? What’s wrong with me?

You sit down right there. Right at my table–it’s not my table, I’m just sitting at a long bar and you sit next to me. But you don’t go back into the code room. You stay with me. I resolve that when you return my charger, I’ll tell you to use it longer, as long as you need, that my battery isn’t that bad… and anyway, I brought a book…

I steal a glance at your finger: no ring. That’s the first thing I check—a sign of my current cocktail of insecurities, that’s all. When I was self conscious about my big feet as a junior high student on the cusp of puberty, it was shoes. I’d always look at people’s shoes. Now that I spend all my time wishing I weren’t single, I look for wedding rings so I can compare myself to the people who wear or don’t wear them.

A few minutes into our little coworking adventure, it’s time to get to know each other better. I’ll start. I stand up and stretch, reaching my arms to the ceiling. This is so that you can see how physical I am, and it’s also the way my stomach will look the flattest. (Take that, elementary school dress code: I’m showing a strange man my belly button. Romantically.) I go to refill my water (I’m a beacon of health) so you can check out my legs (I do yoga) and steal a glance at my laptop screen if you want. I’ve left my book manuscript pulled up, and I’ve made sure to scroll to a part about taking a bus in Cambodia (I’m worldly and fascinating) toward the bottom of the page so you can see the page number (132 and only three quarters down the document: I must be prolific). That should do the trick. You now can assume that I’m generous, have boundaries, drink water, am writing a book, have legs and a belly button, and can reach my arms up. 

You return the charger after 15 minutes and I tell you to keep using it (“keep sitting next to me”), and you say you have enough juice to get through the rest of the day. You say, “Thanks, you’re a lifesaver.”

“If you need it again, you’re welcome to it,” I say as you walk away. That makes me wince.

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