"The story you finished was perhaps never the one you began."
I've been thinking a lot lately about the girls I could have been. There have been so many.
There could have been the single girl working at a vet's office, coming home to her dogs every night. Days spent with sweet friends, but depression and confusion when all alone.
The fiance of a young redneck with an old, creaky pickup truck, who had just bought his first old, creaky house in a old, creaky small town. He picked out paint colors for the walls in shades I've only seen inside Play-Dough cans.
The girlfriend of the former Marine who had a poster of the atomic bomb above his bed and couldn't sleep though his PTSD despite the Ambien and alcohol. We felt destructive and self-loathing together, but I often wondered if he ever hoped to achieve more.
The girl who decided, at 25 years old, children and marriage were never to be. She dreamed of a series of long term boyfriends, travel, and no real commitments to anything.
But mostly, I think about the girl in the cafe. I've always thought about her the most.
I would be sitting in local cafes every day, slowly reading the paper, lazily typing at the keys on my computer. My glasses would be slightly askew, my hair up in a bun with a pencil stuck through it. And when a brilliant idea flashed through my writer's mind, I'd pull the pencil out and feel my hair spill onto my shoulders as I scribbled.
A freelancer who makes just enough to afford the daily coffee habit and a cheap apartment in a neighborhood with brick streets. A girl who may have a boyfriend, or may not. A girl who spends more time at this little coffee shop than she does in her own bed, nodding to the waitress when she walks in, automatically getting her half-caf mocha and cinnamon bagel without needing to order. A beautifully scripted, but somewhat solitary life full of a few of my deepest passions, lived out in the small space filled with the smell of the coffee beans, clinking of china, and the chatter of strangers, not friends.
I probably wouldn't even know. But maybe one day, when a pregnant mother opened the door, clutching the hand of her little 2 year old daughter, I would. "Millie," I'd hear her whisper, "Let's sit here and I'll get you a glass of milk."
And maybe a few tears would fall as I would write about how I could have been that girl, too.