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coffee shop soundtrack
It was a relatively mild day for March, so I decided to go out to the city and soak up the sun while it was here. I got the number 3 bus from Dulwich Village and got off at Piccadilly Circus. I sat on the steps of the fountain and watched the traffic go around the roundabout for a while, wondering where they were going and what they would be doing today.
I decided that I would go for a little walk, looking in the windows of the numerous tourist shops on the way; selling tacky souvenirs of London such as little red bus fridge magnets and 'I heart London' jumpers. Such a rip off. You don't need them. Just a good camera and a functioning memory.
I started feeling peckish, so stopped by a coffee shop, and that's where I first met him. I sat near the window as was my usual spot and a not-quite-boy-not-quite-man came in through the door. He got a coffee and sat next to me. He smiled at me and I smiled back.
He was tallish, reasonably toned, with golden-brown eyes, and he constantly had to flick his chocolate brown hair out of his eyes. 'Got something in your eyes?' I asked. He turned to me, smiling broadly.
'Hi. My name's Florence by the way' I told him, holding out my hand for him to shake.
'Nice to meet you' he replied with a light American accent. 'You think you're funny don't you?' He more stated than asked, I nodded in reply.
We got talking and he told me that he was an art student here on holiday for a few weeks. We exchanged numbers and promised to keep in touch. He asked me if I wouldn't mind showing him the city; and seeing as I had nothing better to do, I agreed.
As we walked we talked. He took a few brilliant photos of London, and we got to know each other. I learnt that he loved modern art, his favourite colour was yellow and that he was a vegetarian. He could also play guitar and piano quite well and when he was 6 years old he played Joseph in the school nativity play he said he was an agnostic and wasn't quite sure if there was a God, but you can't say that the Bible was made up.
I marvelled at the way his hair turned a reddish brown colour under the setting sun, and that when I spoke he gave me his attention and actually listened to what I had to say. It began to get dark and having walked around for quite a while we got hungry, so I took him to a family-run restaurant down a residential street. It was still a bit early for the dinner customers so we had the place to ourselves for most of the meal. It was nice, we mainly sat there in companionable silence, wrapped up in our own thoughts.
When we finished I took him on the London Eye, and I looked down at my beautiful city all lit up. I smiled as I watched him run up and down the pod with his camera like a little kid in a sweet shop. We got off and looked at his photos. I looked through them amazed at how professional they were and complimented each one. He grinned from ear to ear, taking in my praise.
We met up again on Wednesday, and I took him to every art gallery I could think of. He walked around commenting on what he liked and disliked about each piece, and we got into a heated debate over whether an overflowing VW camper van was actually art. We came to the conclusion that yes it was; and that art is about the idea behind the work, not just the execution. I concluded that modern artists must be nutters, but that's just my opinion.
Then on Sunday he took me to his favourite place in London- Battersea park, and we lay down in the meadow, and ran around pretending to be princes and princesses in our palace gardens. We bought an ice cream from a little van and sat down on a bench to eat it.
We talked about our futures and what we wanted to do with our lives, and that was when I remembered that he couldn't stay here forever, and he only had a week more. I decided to make his last week here one that he wouldn't forget, and I spent nearly every single daylight hour with him.
It got to his last day here and the point where we would have to say goodbye to each other. We were sitting on the steps of the fountain at Piccadilly Circus just as I had done two weeks earlier. We sat there in silence wanting the moment to never end. My fingers were laced in his and my head was resting on his shoulders. He sighed and started to get up to go home and get ready for his flight early tomorrow morning.
I hugged him, not wanting to ever let go, not wanting him to leave. The past two weeks had been the best of my life so far and I had gained a truly wonderful friend. I tried to hold them back; but the tears began streaming down my face. He gave me a tissue, hen placed into my hand an A4 black book. I opened it, and he had stuck in all the photos he took of London, and of me, and inside the cover he had written:
I would like you to know that you have opened my eyes and shown me hidden treasure that I would have overlooked if you hadn't dragged me along. Just so that you don't forget me I made you an album of my photos so that when you can look back on them in years to come. I wish you every happiness in life.
Keep in touch,
He gave me one last hug and then walked to the pedestrian crossing and proceeded to cross the road. I watched my coffee shop treasure walk away, and wished that I'd said something other than just goodbye.
Now two years on from that incident, I'm sitting next to the window in a coffee shop on a warm day in March, when a tallish man with golden-brown eyes and chocolate brown hair came walking in. He came and sat down next to me, he smiled at me and I smiled back. 'Hello Florence' he said with a light American accent. It was him.