Coffee Shop Observations II - Henry

September 4, 2017

"Coffee Shop Observations 2" are writings created over an afternoon on 08/03/17


4.10 - 4.35pm 


 Henry might be a good name for who I have just drawn on black paper. It's the name of the coffee-shop I am in, but I think it suits his face too.

 Both consciously, and deep underneath, I think everyone has a face for a name. Just one face. You could know multiple Henrys, and still the face that comes to your mind when you hear those two syllables could be the face of no-one you have ever known personally. I have never known a real Henry, but I know his face. 

 Henry is over forty-five years old, has a somewhat weathered face and only slightly receding hairline. A flurry of silver hairs gather at his temples, and his brow is permanently furrowed above eyes that flicker, distracted. He often fidgets, for reasons which have rooted themselves for life inside his muscles. When Henry smiles, his frown becomes less serious but still rather exasperated. It is like someone putting on a brave face for their children, only to find that they outgrew that mask a long time ago. It no longer fits.

 Henry prefers the window seat on the bus, and always thanks the driver quietly for his job. He keeps all his bus tickets in a scrapbook, even if the only thing that changes on them is the date. When he walks, it looks like he has a back problem, but he's actually fairly flexible and agile. His interests tend to be related to the natural world - woodworking, geology, bird-watching and hiking.

For all it's worth, his frown never really disappears. There's never been a moment in his life where he has not felt confused about something. The ridges of his forehead are rolled-up parchments, each holding a current obsessive thought or long-term pondering. Should he manage to solve one and answer a nagging thought, another simply appears from the vault. It's his burden to bear, and he is aware that those around him have much fewer questions accumulating on their faces. Small bumps and lines, maybe, but a general absence of confusion marks them as different to Henry. 

 That's okay, he thinks, good for them. It doesn't make them less intelligent or devoid of stress, it's just that their moments of uncertainty are more fleeting. Puzzles don't settle in their skin for as long as that skin is alive. Instead they just visit, and then dissipate. 

 Henry will keep walking and turning the wrinkles on his head round and round with a circulation of topics to keep the cogs clean and useful. He will figure things out, over and over again. It will always be that way because he believes that is his purpose in life. Above all, he is a thinker.


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