Last time I went, it was relatively quiet since it was late enough that lunch had past, but still too early for dinner. But this time, it was me and another gentleman.
I couldn't help but glance at him out of the corner of my eye over a sip of beer because he was also black. There's always that sort of silent acknowledgment as if to say, 'I'm black, you're black, let's collectively enjoy our blackness'.
And it could have ended there, but we were both alone and found ourselves in a nice conversation. He told me he was an attorney, I told him I was between jobs but I was finding a lot more time for writing because it was something that I loved.
He confessed to me that before going to law school that he liked writing as well. Poetry. But life sneaks up and gets in the way, so he stopped.
Always excited to meet a fellow writer my eyes popped and I leaned over and said, "You should write! We need your voice more than ever in times like these."
He looked stunned by this, and I know my passion can be disarming, but in that moment it felt like the most important thing to say.
We need you. We need your craft. We need your voice.
Because art is something that gets tossed carelessly aside in the pursuit of the American dream. Even when achieving what we think we should, some still end up unhappy. I think it's because art, no matter what it is, gives us life.
He seemed doubtful. He echoed what the voices of self-doubt in my own head say on a bad day, 'I can't' or 'It's been so long', or some other drabble to stop the keys from clacking under my fingertips or still the pencil in my hand from coming into contact with paper.
We are our own worst enemy, but I like to think that our voices and encouragement can give each other the inspiration and life we need to move ahead.
"You can do it! I believe in you!" I said cheerfully.
And I don't know if he's writing or not - thought I very much hope he is - but I hope I inspired him. He at least gave me a recommendation at a job I had my eye on so I'd like to think I did something worthwhile.