An anxiety story
Some days are unforgiving. My reflection on the elevator doors reveals that I thought I looked a lot better than I actually did when I left the house. Then the doors open to a dozen pair of eyes assessing me. There's an awkward shuffle to make space and I have to squeeze myself in while trying to maintain a comfortable distance from the ones behind and avoid an awkward eye contact from the ones in front. Of course there's the reach to press the button. Halfway through extending my arm, I realized someone has already pressed on the button "oh...uh" I said and pulled my arms back. The loud fabric of my jacket wasn't helping. It kept announcing my every move to the stuffy elevator
There's a group of four girls in one corner talking and laughing loud. They're happy, at ease. Beside them is a young couple sneaking glances and holding hands at an angle that couldn't have been comfortable for either party. Opposite to me is a waiter on edge counting every second till the gates opened, with a covered plate in his hands. the fact that at least one other person is as unsettled as I am makes me feel a lot more welcome. I looked down to avoid looking at my reflection.
The minute the doors opened, me and the waiter took a leap out. at last, I can sit and have a peaceful moment with the book I started this morning, or so I thought. Not only have I forgotten to download the book, I took a painful walk around the lounge looking for an empty seat to be met with curious eyes on every table. I tried the "pretend to be texting" escape to be met with a dead battery. I looked up to realize that my legs have led me to the counter. after an awkward smile exchange and a failed attempt to mask my nerves, I walked right out and took the stairs this time. I didn't have it in me to go through the whole exchange again.
Where do i go now? Coffee. Yes. Maybe knocking off the grogginess from the car nap is not such a bad idea and perhaps sitting will let my nerves simmer down.
It didn't take more than 5 minutes to realize I was wrong. There's 35 tiles on the floor, 20 hung lamps, only 15 books on the big shelf that's taking up the entire wall behind me, only one empty table, four paintings and only one person sitting alone. Any guesses who? Hint, it's me.
The wall in front of me is decorated by old school mails. I should have sat closer to that. I would have had something to read. My eyes keep glancing up at the books behind me. I was self aware enough to know that I wouldn't have the guts or the height required to reach them. If I had a gut, I wouldn't have been sitting here 20 minutes after finishing my coffee just to avoid awkwardly squeezing between seats to the exit. If I could avoid the pair of eyes for longer, it's what I'll do. Even if it means spending hours in a cafe alone.
With the zipper of my pants digging into my stomach, I became extremely aware of the texture of every piece of clothing I was wearing. It is days like these where I curse myself for spilling bleach on my favorite hoody, my shield.
The family sitting by the window walked out, and a couple so nauseatingly in love took their place. Technology might be killing our brains but it makes up for it in moments like this. I feel both invisible and on the spot at the same time. I tugged at my shirt for the hundredth time to keep it from sticking to me. When I looked up at the glass door, I was once again met by my blurry reflection and made aware of another reason to throw out my bathroom mirror. How have I not noticed my hair sticking out my head like I just- oh wait. I did sleep on it. I blame the crowded streets of Addis on such a rainy day.
Two more hours. The cafe is now empty enough for me to walk out without the nerves getting to me before I could get to the door.
Next destination : Rooftop