Two days ago, I was forcibly reminded that first impressions are not always right. For several years now, I've visited the same bookstore and watched a young girl of apparent middle eastern descent. Sometimes, she's there with a small group of other girls also wearing the hijab, but usually she's alone. Sometimes, she has coffee, sometimes she doesn't, but she always wears that powder blue headscarf and keeps to herself. Sometimes, I wondered what she was like, but I could never understand what she was saying because she spoke to her friends in Arabic. Mostly, I assumed that she wished to be left alone.
The other day, she came in about twenty minute after I had arrived. This was normal, expected even, and I just glanced up and smiled a bit before going back to my work. She wandered around for a minute, looking for a table, then looked down at her laptop. The only outlet in the cafe was being occupied by a woman who was just writing into little notebook and after a moment, the girl approached her and asked if she could share her table.
I'm not sure why, but this blew my mind. I felt like one of the fundamental things in my life had just been upended. I overheard some of their conversation. The woman was half Palestinian, the girl was also from Palestine. I stopped listening after a moment, waiting for my world view to readjust itself, and went back to my work. After a little while, the girl left and soon after, so did the woman.
I asked if I could have her table, my battery was beginning to run low, and took up residence. I was halfway through my second reading of Wordsworth's We Are Seven when someone touched my shoulder. I pulled out my headphones and looked up, only to be confronted by the Girl in Blue. I smiled as she asked if she could share my table and she took a seat.
Over the next hour or so, we talked about anything and everything. While I would never have been brave enough to approach her, I feel richer for the experience. So, if you're reading this, Girl in Blue, thank you for giving me something to remember and reminding me that things are not always what they seem.