Eavesdropping at Starbuck’s. It’s 6:30 in the morning, and I’m sitting in a brown velvet lounge chair in Starbuck’s, not ten minutes from the prep school I attended as a child. Seated around me are five men. Starbucks appears to be their weekday ritual. They sip coffee, read the Atlanta Constitution, and enjoy each other’s company.
I study the men. They are about my age, but that’s where the similarities end. Each is dressed in business attire; I am in jeans. I listen. They talk of Atlanta real estate, children, and high school sports, subjects I know little about.
I am a stranger; they form a fraternity, and I don’t fit in. Married, with children, their interests, and perhaps their values, are different than mine. Part of their lives, such as being fathers, I envy. Other parts, I don’t.
Observing these men, I feel sadness. I was raised to live these men’s lives, but my life took a different turn. I grieve the unlived life. At the same time, I am grateful for the life I now enjoy. It fits me; it feeds me. It feels authentic and real.
I am reminded that life is a trade-off. We make one choice; we leave another behind.
It’s now 7:45, and I’m meeting my goddaughter for breakfast at 8:00. As I leave, I glance back at the group. Another man joins them; he takes my empty seat.