I sit at the table next to them dreaming; words swing and swirl through my mind and then tap out of my fingers and onto the screen. Earbuds full of instrumental hymns nestle my heart and soul as I sit amidst the hubbub at my neighborhood Starbucks on a Sunday afternoon.
A gruff and insincere "Thanks for meeting me here this afternoon" climbs up and over the peacefulness I use my volume toggle to maintain.
I peek over my left shoulder at the two burly men who just sat down and they continue. For a second, I eye the table across the shop and consider moving. After all, I'm here for a reason -- there are no kids, no dishes, no laundry fresh from the dryer to fold -- and there is a to-do list a dozen items long attached to my laptop.
"Are you aware that..."
"Did you know that her boyfriend..."
"I'm not willing to pay more than 13% of that..."
"Is that before taxes or after?"
"I'm not sure about that. Does she know about this?"
"I think we should use a different lawyer in mediation. Not ours, not yours."
"He's really struggling in school. Have you seen his grades?"
"You know, college is coming up..."
"I think we should tell her..."
"Maybe they could rent, but I won't buy something. I won't."
I marvel at their conversation, the pleasantries stuffed into camouflaged overcoats. I marvel at their engaged disengagement, from discussing people that they claim to know...but not really...and from looking at details instead of hearts. I marvel at their rough agreement, that aligns their interests without the luxury of emotionalism and reduces the family's decisions to an attractive bottom line.
I think back to conversations with my friend...who's had the same coffee shop meetings with her husband, his ex-wife, and her family friend. Over and over. And, it's always reduced to numbers, really, under the guise of doing what is best, you know, for the kids.
And these weighty decisions -- the ones that impact someone else's kids -- today they're constructed by the men who play 'Telephone' at the coffee shop.
Only because they are neutral.