SHARE A TABLE

I have decided that when I am in town and I don't have a million and one things to do on a Saturday, that I should get up and go to a yoga class. My favorite yoga place has a 9:00 AM class on Saturday mornings and I have found that I still get up early enough to stop in at Heirloom for a light breakfast and some journal writing and have time to digest a little before starting class. When class is over, I run to the grocery store and then I'm home just in time for lunch. Some times Michael is even up and showered when I get home. My favorite yoga place is not really close and this Saturday I didn't want to stray to far from my neighborhood. So I went an 8:00 AM class at studio close to me. 

It was a nice class, different from my usual practice. The teacher incorporated more flowing sequences than I tend to do and less holding of poses. We prepared for headstand and then I did a headstand. It was good, but I didn't really make a connection with the teacher or the other students and I didn't really get a yoga home vibe. This is okay. The important thing was to try something new. After class I headed over to Heirloom and immediately realized that my original get there at 7:30 AM routine is a much better routine. Heirloom was packed. I parked on the street and got in a long line. By the time I'd finished placing my order, I looked up to find that all the seats at the bar were taken. I wandered the small table section and found one empty table for two and I took it. 

I had just opened the Fortune Cookie journal when I noticed a young man wandering around with his coffee mug and the alphabet letter card Heirloom uses to find you when your order is ready. Someone came out with a tray of biscuits and gravy. I heard the man say that it was his, but he couldn't find a place to sit. I raised my voice so they could hear me and asked "is it just you?" The man replied "yes" and so I gestured to the chair across from me and said "have a seat." Both the young man and the server still holding his tray seemed a little surprised by my offer, but then both of them smiled and he gratefully took a seat. There was a brief exchange of small talk, enough to discover that neither of us had lived in the city for more than six years and both of us were surprised by how big St. Patrick's Day is around here. Mostly, we left each other to our own devices, him hastily eating his breakfast and me attempting to write a story prompted by a fortune cookie fortune. The young man finished his coffee and got up to bus his side of the table. He thanked me once again for letting him sit at my table and then we wished each other happy weekends.

I am still stuck by how surprised he was that I would offer a seat at my table to a perfect stranger. I think of places I have been where it was just assumed that someone sit in the empty seat next to you. There might be a courtesy "is this seat taken?" before they sat, but they'd have themselves seated before you were on the second head nod. I have been on subways that have forced me to redraw my boundary for personal space. Chris and I used to go to You Say Tomato at a crowded time in the mornings and always ended up sharing our table with another couple; sometimes a whole family. It was something we did without question or pause. It is still something I do without question or pause. Personal space is a luxury, a given in our own homes, and taken for granted in the wide open spaces of this country. I forget that I live in a city in the middle of wide open spaces and that so many of the younger residents here moved to this place from farmland. They are still getting used to a smaller boundary for personal space. 

All of this makes me aware of the boundaries we build, even for those we love.