there is a coffee shop in manhattan known as java. don't give me any of that bluestem crap. not happening. anyway, the shop is pretty big for a cafe. it is long and somewhat narrow with windows along one wall that look out into an alley with a deck and seating in it. it's actually quite nice if you haven't seen it before. and there are tables that run along with wall. only downside: you smell terrible if you spend too long in there. it's the baking + coffee. not good.
the layout though makes for some interesting seating. if you are at a table by yourself, say reading or something, sometimes you'll end up with another person across from you at another table facing you. maybe they have a laptop or something, but inevitably there will be moments where you are both looking up and you catch each others' eye--much more than at other places with scattered tables. the moment of contact is quickly broken, as it is a strange sort of intimacy with a complete stranger.
even more striking is when there are two people in the table you are facing, but you can still see past the back of the one to the other person facing you. sometimes you catch their eye, even in the midst of them being in a conversation. it is so interesting because you can almost absorb the look they are giving to the person they are sitting with. it's like you are able to become a little bit of who that person is to the other. and just so rarely, sometimes you see the look a woman gives to that man she is deeply in love with. and you catch a piece. and it makes your heart ache. or at least it does mine.