I’m sitting at the pristine succulent-lined café bar, the city on pause outside, filtered out by clean air and soft music. An elevator ride away and I’ll be in a smoky lobby, surrounded by bells and sirens, the sounds of celebration drowning out the silence of despair.
My own pockets are $200 lighter, but I’m not worried about that now. Instead, I’m basking in the post-workout glow while my cohorts are elsewhere, shaking off the hangover sweats. I’m staking my claim in this empty café, at this empty bar, soaking up the serenity before I head back into the smoky noise.
This isn’t where I want to be, it’s not my scene. But for now, I’m safe in this oasis.
When the waitress hands me my bagel, I slather it with cream cheese, inspecting its golden perfection even as I note a hint of moldy odor, the distinct mustiness of green dust that I can’t see anywhere. I look for it, too, disappointed that all can’t be perfect int this tiny pocket of peace. The chaos is out there, it’s not supposed to be here. And it’s not, as far as I can tell. I can smell it, but if the bagel is moldy, it hides it well.
So I take a tentative bite. Yes. It’s there – but barely. It’s so discreet, I take another bite, and then another, savoring the spongy bread and creamy topping, which lightly masks the moldy flavor. And as I finish the last bite, I think it’s kind of like this place – the flashing lights, the loud bells and sirens, the jingling of money, the cheers of celebration, even this sleek spa café and nearby gym – all masking the musty odor of emptied pockets and weighted spirits, which started with a simple case of hope.