I don't know if they remember me. The last time I walked into the Cafe Sereno, I was blonde. My identity crisis is represented by a repeating decimal: A sometimes imaginary, sometimes real number multiplied by an equal and opposite fraction. I call this number balance.
"The dark hair suits you," tuts Jo, the barrista. Of course she remembers me. I order the same thing as last time, a pot of Earl Gray contaminated--ruined, disgraced with two dollops of cream.
"Nasty," says Jo. "Yeti, Clare's here." She treats me like a regular, as if I stepped outside for a smoke two years ago only to return two minutes later.
"Still pouring sick in your tea?" Yeti is the cook. He never went to University but believes, given 10 years time, those able to open pickle jars with their bare hands will have an advantage over those with Arts-based degrees.
"All I'm saying is: does your scarf have your name on it?" He holds up the scarf he stole from the Salvation Army like a banner:
"Came from Tibet."
Knit under YETI is another phrase:
"Jesus cares," Jo, who has the angled, winking eyes of a fox, winks extra hard. "Do you find Atheism--what's the word--offensive?"
"Religion's funny." I don't know why I categorize Atheism as a religion.
Before coming to the cafe, I talked with a Theology major who never read C.S. Lewis yet managed--in a fuzzy, gesticulative way--to mention the only idea of the writer's I find truly intolerable: "Jesus must be the son of God."
"I'd rather talk about the weather--or art, even," I tell Jo. She sends me to the gallery next door. The drawings--nudes, horses, a sea cliff in Northern Wales--are just expressive enough to maintain marketability. For me, the only one inciting aesthetic feeling is a splashy smear, a border collie crouched in grass.
I still miss my dog. Suddenly I don't want to talk about art. Jesus doesn't have to be the son of God. It doesn't matter, and it's not our business.
C.S. Lewis, and my vague Theology major for that matter, believe Jesus must be divine, or else the apostles--all the Pauls and Matthews by the dozens--are wrong. I wander back into the Cafe. "Jesus was just the best one there: Smart and really kind."
"I'm smart," says Jo.
I remember a song: I guess it would be nice to give my heart to a God, but which one?
"Me too," says Yeti.
Later, the song adds but Physics makes us all its bitches.
An Atom Unsplitting: my attempt at film photography
"Me too." I step outside and shamefully light up. I never smoke. Want of conversation makes me a social smoker, though I'm alone for this one. Every time my mom lights up, she turns away and says "Have patience with your mother, who has fallen from grace."
I look inside. Jo cleans the espresso machine as Yeti holds his scarf up for a table of girls just expressive enough to maintain marketability: GEZUS KARS.