One day Charlie met his friend Parker at the downtown cafe, Petal. A once somebody’s-house turned business in the up and coming chic part of town, Petal promoted vegan meals with it’s overpriced coffee. Parker waited on the front porch dressed to the nines in a floral shirt from H&M matched with red slacks. Charlie considered his own outfit average besides the summer scarf that covered his shoulders.
“This place is amazing.” Parker exclaimed as soon as he walked into the cafe. “So chic, exactly the kind of place I want to own someday.” Charlie nodded although he disagreed. He knew his friend for two whole years and had never heard him express passion for a place like this: where people used recycled coffee cups, ate meatless lasagna, and were content with walking on fake wood floors.
The two walked up to the counter and ordered food from the cashier, whom gave them a table card and said it would be delivered when ready. Parker picked a table in a corner away from any of the other people. Above it hung portrait paintings by local artists.
“Isn’t this wild. Who would ever buy this crap?” Parker said, pointing to the art. Charlie thought he would but shrugged his shoulders.
“I’m surprised you ordered so quickly. Usually you’re so picky.” Charlie said, keeping his tone polite. “In fact, I’m surprised you chose this place at all.” Parker rolled his eyes.
“I trying to try new things.” A server (the same cashier) came over and delivered their coffees. Parker took a sip that caused him to scrunch his nose. “And now I know that Green Tea is awful.” He pushed the cup away. “Anyways, how’ve you been Charlie. It’s been a while since we’ve actually talked. I remember the last time you were crying about some project, or something, that was overdue.”
Charlie bowed his head. He recalled the conversation three weeks back. He had come to Parker for consolation about missing the deadline on a writing project, a collection of five personally-written poems that were a week late. Parker had given no compassion but instead a calendar book.
“Did you ever finish those poems?”
“No,” Charlie said, his voice soft. “I uh…dropped out…of college.” Parker’s lip pursed. Charlie held his breath. Parker opened his mouth when Charlie said, “Now don’t be angry like you already are, just listen. I’m not the college type. Did you know that most graduates don’t get their dream job after college. The percentage is like high. Don’t speak yet. Let me finish, please? I also wasn’t happy. I wasn’t learning anything that made me feel fulfilled as a writer.”
“And what is that Charlie? A student doesn’t learn everything they need to know in one semester.”
“Three.” Charlie corrected. Parker let out a coughing noise before breaking eye contact. Charlie felt a pressure in the center of his stomach, like a trillion pebbles were blocking a hot geyser from shooting out his mouth.
“So what are you doing now with your time?” Parker said, eventually.
“I started a blog. It’s called Re-Crew and it’s about the multiple personalities I think I have. I tell different stories through the eyes of a dancer, a writer, a student, a father. It really allows me to be who I want to be.” Charlie took a sip of his coffee. “I already have fifty followers. It doesn’t sound like a lot but it’s enough to fill a small room.”
“That’s great, Charlie.” Parker said, so softly that his friend hadn’t heard anything. “No, you know what that’s ridiculous.” Louder. “What kind of twenty-something-year-old gives up so soon on their future? You can’t just give up whenever you feel like it. You have to keep going and make no excuses for yourself. You have to plan for success. I bet you didn’t even use the calendar book.”
“I did try, Parker. I tried for three semesters and hated it. I didn’t like anything I was being taught so I decided to teach myself a lesson. Instead I started a blog where I can express myself and other people’s passions. That makes me happy. Why is it so inconceivable that I can learn something so important as that outside of college?”
Parker reached across the table and took his friend’s hand. “You sound like a crazy person.”
The food came.