Hot oatmeal with dried cranberries and walnuts, pumpkin spice latte, my laptop, and a couple of hours all to myself at a Starbucks on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Nearby a little girl, probably three, in a pink flowered dress and springy chestnut curls, sits with her mother in an oversized plush chair, looking at a magazine, asking why, why, why. The mother sips her drink, patiently answering each question,
“Why do they look like that?”
“They're from a place called Easter Island, where it's a part of their culture to get tattoos.”
“Why don't I have tattoos like that?”
“Because you live in Bellevue, darling, not on Easter Island.”
The questions go on and on, each one answered carefully, with love. At the next table, and the one after that, a solitary man, and a solitary woman sit, typing on laptops, just like me. The coffer grinder whirs away in the background, the rich scent of coffee wafting through the air. Jimmi Hendrix, elevator style, is coming through the speakers. The little girl jumps up and starts twirling to the music, garnering applause from a grandmotherly type sitting nearby, bringing smiles to all. Realizing this, the little ballerina shyly hides her face and runs to her mother's lap.
My own little girl, not really so little anymore, chestnut hair pulled tightly into a bun, wearing pink tights and satin pointe shoes, is doing her own ballerina twirls in a studio down the street while I watch this little scene in the coffee shop. She was also a little girl who liked asking why, why, why. She still does, just not from me, unless it's to question the rules. Those constant questions must have worn on me at times in those early days, but I'm unable to recall them now with anything but fondness and pride for my curious, smart girl. My girl also brings smiles and applause with her dancing, but now it's on a big stage in front of hundreds of people. There's no more running to her mother's lap for confidence these days, though she'll always be welcome. She's got her own confidence now. And if she ever asks me if she can get a tattoo, I think I'll use a version of that same answer I overheard from the young mother at Starbucks, "...you live in Bellevue darling, not on Easter Island."