“From My Seat Up Here” by Morgan Carne
Study Abroad Country: England
I sit now in a high lonely corner of the Highness Café and Tea Shop, obscure in the solitude and shadows of the ages-old walls around me.
“Concentrate. Some days I want to open the door, and try to breathe outside. Just try it; for once, real air.
I wrote those words more than a month past.
I sit at an old-fashioned writing desk, my feet resting upon an unfamiliar metal step of intricate design in molded leaves and black flowers. In the reflection of the front window, I see them: the owners of the café, sitting side by side. She is eating a sandwich, staring resolutely out at the street and all its life passing by; yet, that subtle spark of humor in her eye remains. Ever the more serious one, though – the rock, the strength of them – she doesn’t crack even a smile. But he comes up close by her side, looking deeply into her face, and wipes a crumb from it with a loving thumb.
His soft blue eyes crinkle, I can see, and his smile breaks through the rain as swiftly as the wings of the monarch butterfly in the first hours of spring.
They continue in such a manner, their café busy around them, but their voices only for each other. Strong, sure, knowing gazes are all it takes.
Here in London, everything seems to move out of a deep stillness, or at least at a pace far slower than anything I ever experience in America. Sure, this is one of the largest and most thriving cities in the world; but it is not in a hurry. At least, not to me, whose eyes are so captivated and encapsulated by the sights, smells, and lives humming around me in this foreign place. I am entranced by the meaning inherent in every day – in every action – as the people understand what it means to be a human being in the physical world. They take the darkness and pain of it and use it to fuel the fir of hope and expectancy within them. There has to be something more than this futile striving, they seem to say with each breath they take. So each moment is a step toward Infinity, or, if nothing else, the love they feel is their infinity.
And I suppose I always believed it – that power of our God to bring to outward life all that sings and dances inside us. In essence, where else do such wild dreams come from? Nothing has ever seemed more pertinent in the current of change that continually sweeps through the river that is each one of our lives. Change will come, sure as the rain on the cobblestones outside, washing away the dirt and filth of the freezing night. From my seat up here, on the top floor of this lonely little café in a poor suburb of London, I understand this. Because at least I have stepped outside my own front door.