Things are especially colorless in the winter. The sky is a mournful gray, the windows a bleak mist. Even the cars parked outside seem washed out, their typically distinct hues dulled and blurring together.
I prefer to sleep right through these types of mornings—or mornings in general, really. I’d like to do away with mornings—but today, I don’t have the luxury. Even though it’s still Thanksgiving break and about two hours too early for coherent thought, I’m sitting in a local Starbucks and doing actual work. I haven’t purchased anything since I slid into a seat for my 10AM interview, and I wonder if the workers are judging me for it.
I’m tempted to continue this streak out of pure spite, but then I remember I’m here to be productive. And I will be, once any one of my group members shows up.
We’re meeting to work on our poetry presentation for English. Despite being designated Group 1, we got the last pick of “To Sir John Lade, On His Coming of Age,” a poem that is about four times as long as the rest of the poems and sounds about four times less interesting. We’re all still very bitter about this.
At one point, we have to present a choral reading, which is when groups of people read aloud in unison. I’m not entirely sure of the science behind this, but put four people who each have moderate to high pitched voices together in a choral reading, and you get what can only be described as a satanic chant.
I can’t wait to practice that in a crowded coffee shop.
“Are you using this chair?” A fourteen-year-old girl in a North Face jacket asks me. I open my mouth to answer in the affirmative, but then I realize I’ve been sitting alone for thirty minutes at this table for four and decide it’s not worth explaining.
“Go ahead,” I tell her, and look out the window. As if on cue, the cheerless atmosphere is complemented by the onset of rain.
“Is your interview over?”
I look up, first at the group member who has just arrived, and then, pointedly, at the chair-less space right across from me.
He shrugs and takes a seat. “I could only see your back.”
I check my phone. A group member has sent me a series of apologetic texts: she’s running late. “So, did you look at the script?”
Group Member #3 drops a bag from Party City onto the table. “I brought the costumes!”
She’s brought period hats. It’s a DIY set of twelve: six bonnets for girls and six top hats for guys. “If we’re only using one top hat for him, that leaves you with eleven hats,” I laugh.
“These were like two dollars,” she says, and it’s not surprising. The “hats” are just 2D construction paper cutouts with a long strip to fix around the head.
“What a steal.” Group Member #2 is still on her way, so we tear open the package and start making some hats.
Group Member #1 tries to fit his top hat on his head, but the strip is far too short. It roosts atop his head like a toddler’s makeshift crown. Or a black dunce cap.
“Wait, isn’t that a Pilgrim hat?”
“It’s supposed to be Victorian England.”
A moment of silence. “Take off the buckle sticker,” I whisper.
He does. It tears.
Group Member #3 and I are sorting through the confusing mess of bonnet parts when Group Member #2 calls.
“I’m at the wrong address,” she speaks frantically, “I don’t know, but there isn’t a Starbucks here.” She repeats her current location.
“That’s where we are,” I tell her, more than a little confused.
Group Member #1 looks up. “Wait, I had that issue. The address you sent in the group text was right, but the link directed to the same address in another city.”
Group Member #3 sends another string of apologetic texts. I imagine her in her car, frustrated beyond belief, sweating and scrolling wildly through her phone GPS and checking the clock and running red lights just to get to the group meeting, where we are talking about movies and pretending the hats we’re making aren’t from an entirely different society.
“Don’t worry,” I say, “and don’t speed. It’s really not worth it.”
“… I think I’ve got a flat tire,” Group Member #2 texts, and the three of us explode into laughter.
As we wheeze and pound the table and wipe away tears, I can almost feel the depressing gray outside recede. Maybe it makes us inconsiderate, finding it so funny that the universe seems to be doing everything in its power to delay her from meeting us, but, sometimes, it’s just comforting to know that everyone has their days.