A Couple at a Table

Tonight this couple came in and sat at a small round table at the restaurant I work. They must’ve been married 50 years and had an aura about them that radiated happiness. Because they were my last table of the night and the sweetest things I’d ever seen, I didn’t mind spending extra time at their table, lingering a bit with conversation. They told me of their travels, all the time they’d spent in Czechoslovakia when it was still Czechoslovakia. How they were there when the curtain fell and it was for the first time free. They told me how they spent their honeymoon road tripping from New York to Seattle and got caught in a tornado in North Dakota and ended up camping under a fallen tree. He’d moved her all over the world and they’d built a life of love and experience in every corner of it.

She looked at him with light in her eyes as he recalled adventures they shared together. I knew they were still very much in love as he looked for her approval after each detail, certain she was proud to call him hers.

They were mildly horrified when I told them I graduated from college three years ago and was now going on six years still bartending and serving at the same restaurant. I tried to explain I hadn’t found anything I enjoyed enough to quit, but that I had plans to make efforts to take myself out of an industry that was starting to burn me out. Every excuse I said sounded so ridiculous when I heard it out loud. It filled me with a sort of embarrassment that I have so many dreams I’m sabotaging because of fear.

She told me I needed to get out of my comfort zone, that fulfilling my potential and finding passion takes bravery. She told me to be courageous and let go of whatever is scaring me out of taking the leap and leaving this plateau.

I could have sat there and talked to them for hours. It’d been so long since somebody inspired me the way this couple did. I found myself wanting to be the person this woman thought I could be. She kept telling me Just do it! You have to just do it! Something so simple and so true, holding so much life-altering meaning.

I’m thankful for people like this—those who push, those who look at me with hope and true belief that my destiny doesn’t lie in the stagnancy of my present. I’m thankful to feel my fear shaking under my surface, ready to burst out of my soul and allow me to make changes this year especially. I need to just do it.

12 Minutes of Crisis

It’s 63 degrees outside, a little cloudy, but beautiful and crisp. I’ve just ordered the perfect latte at my favorite coffee shop. It is an ideal day. I carefully select a table in the front, near the twinkling outdoor lights. I remove all of the essentials from my bag and adjust the chairs to my liking so I’m facing civilization, but not with anyone in my line of vision. It’s then I realize I chose the wrong spot. Empty tables in all corners of the outdoor courtyard and I chose the one spot that the only three teenage girls in a square mile want to sit… directly adjacent to the perfect table on a perfect day waiting on the perfect latte.

I try to ignore it, but soon start panicking. The noise is too much. I’m over stimulated and have lost all focus on the book in my hand, the weather I’m enjoying, and the latte I’ll soon be sipping. I look around franticly. Will it be awkward if I get up and move over? Is that passive aggressive? The screaming laughter amplifies and I realize I’m teetering the line of commitment. I make an executive decision and pack my things and head to the other side of the courtyard. Fifteen feet out my heart drops. My order number. It stands proudly on its little metal clamp, knowing the task at hand to retrieve my coffee is its most important yet. I awkwardly stumble back over to my original table and pick up the little white cardstock, wondering if anyone else sees my forgetfulness.

There’s a man sitting directly in the center of the opposite end of the courtyard. He’s probably about 30, maybe married, maybe not. He looks up from under his baseball cap and catches me contemplating which end of the courtyard to successfully avoid any human contact. I choose the right. And as I get comfortable, adjusting the chairs so I can prop a foot up, set up my laptop, pull out my book, it happens. Two paragraphs later, the wind begins to howl. I feel the brisk breeze through the holes in my jeans and straight through the knitting of my oversized cardigan. I think back on the times I was warm, how I took those moments for granted. I imagine the fleece blanket on my couch, the leather jacket I set down when deciding what outerwear to bring, a men’s jacket left in the front seat of my car. The left side of the courtyard looks so much warmer. I push on though, try to focus on the fact that 63 degrees is not cold. I mean, there are people shoveling snow with numb hands and wet feet and I’m sitting outside in a beach town and there are fellow Floridians in short-sleeves.

My mind drifts back to the latte. I imagine it sitting on the counter, cooling by the second, longing for the embrace of cold hands. What if they lost me when I moved tables? I quickly scan what’s in front of me and find my order number, making sure it was indeed visible.

The cold becomes too much. I have to pack up yet again and find another spot, perhaps this time closer to a wall so I’m wedged outside the wind’s line of fire. I can’t go back to the pack of hyenas in the front and I can’t choose the opposite side of the man in the baseball hat, knowing he’d watch right to left wondering what’s wrong with me and shuffle over to avoid eye contact. That would be more than my social anxiety could handle.

I choose the last outside option, knowing my only other choice is to move inside, where I absolutely don’t want to be today, stuffed up in a crowded room with a Pandora station I loathe. I grab my bag and realize the girls are looking at me, probably wondering what level of insanity and indecisive I am. As I walk that long walk, feeling a little ashamed and embarrassed I’ve yet to get it right, I realize I’ve done it again. Shit! I’ve abandoned my order number, the only bridge that connects me to what I came here for, what I’ve planned this day around: the perfect latte.

I race back looking up to see if the barista has given up on finding me. I envision a slow motion scene of me diving for the life of my drink, bellowing NOOOOO as she underhand tosses it into the garbage. Papers scatter. Mothers embrace their children. I fail. I shake my head back to reality and sit down yet again. I take a second to make sure this is indeed my last move. I set up my computer and pull out my book, move my chair around so I can see the front door, ready for my moment. The barista is walking toward me. Her eyes lock mine and she realizes that at that very moment, she is the most important person. I feel the warmth first and then see she has perfectly outlined a caramel colored leaf on the creamiest foamiest froth. I close my eyes and breathe in, take a sip of exactly 160 degrees of espresso and steamed milk.

I open my eyes and see the chaos has ceased and the crisis averted. This day is yet again perfect.  

Kick off the Cement

It’s grey out today. Cool, but not cold. A bit windy. There are two glasses of unfinished wine from last night sitting on the coffee table and I’m alone. There’s a pit in my chest, my habitual sadness melted together with a little anxiety. Nothing debilitating, but distracting enough.

When does darkness become a lifestyle? I grew up a little dark and sad with the normal amount of hormonal depression, lightly medicated for periods of time, but never dependent off of it. I have fun, too much fun. And every day isn’t dark, but so many are. A romantic cynic by nature, I always thought I’d grow out of it. Something in my life was supposed to happen that would pull the sadness out and replace it with magic and beauty. I’ve always been hopeful to exit this phase of my life, but each passing year makes it feel a little more permanent.

I don’t think it’s some impossible standard leading to insatiability either. It’s a combination of dreaming big, but reaching small. It’s the constant disappointment for allowing people into my life who value me lower than I value them. It’s seeing the potential in others and having it tear me apart over and over. It’s the overwhelming rush to run away when life doesn’t pan out, but never actually doing it. It’s watching myself shut down, piece by piece, feeling a little less able to shake it off each time. It’s my cycle, the same cycle I’ve always been in, which is kind of the anti-cycle, but repetitive nonetheless.

I know it’s all me—all my choices from daily habits to life altering situations. And each time I tell myself I’ll change and fix it and stop doing the same shit and grow up and be something more. And every time I fail it just becomes that much more overwhelming to try again.

The weight of today is making my knees buckle, but tomorrow I’ll try again. And maybe I’ll fail, but maybe I won’t. I just need to win small battles every day, tiny victories to remind me that’s all this hardship is, an accumulation of choices and outcomes and finding the balance in it all.

/The how/ to who I am now

(June 21st, 2016)

IMG_1327.jpg

It started with too much coffee.  Too much caffeine lead to the comment, “We have heard enough of your voice today” given by the two darlings I nanny.  Which lead to the slow and very incomplete rearrangement of the items in my room. There is just something that is found when your perspective is changed, even if it is ever so slightly.

I got wine drunk last night, for the first time in a long time and it felt like listening to an old but favorite song.  I reached out, grasp desperately at those whose voice I admire.  I talked to discover, to unearth.

Somewhere in between last night and this morning I fell in love with the how.  The process that has molded and pushed me into the now. 

Everything that I have experienced in love, about love, unloved, has created the emotion I now know intimately.  It has shaped me in ways that cannot be undone, ways that have fortified my soul, ways that have taught me how to be sensitive to hurt, and bold when creating boundaries for myself. 

I believe intellectual connection in a relationship to be rare, and precious, elusive, and lovely.  That exciting someone’s mind is a gift that not all are fortunate enough to give or receive. That it is easy to view your mind as special and denying someone’s involvement in it because…"enter excuse"… displays fear not greatness.

I am mostly talking to myself but if you have found a soul that honors and cultivates your mind, that is an unspeakable treasure indeed.  

Reveries

I had a reverie last night.  After collected all the items I needed for an indulgent bath, my thoughts started running onto the next day and then on to next week.   Then for a moment while I was scrubbing my hair I became filled with an overflowing sense of gratefulness.  I am so fortunate to spend 30 minutes under warm water with all of these different products and essential oils, soaps.  That’s a long time; no one is timing me, or rationing my water.  I have a towel for goodness sake, multiple.   

How does this feeling escape me on the day to day?  How is it that I can go days upon days without sending up thanks for the luxuries I have in excess? 

Maybe for those few moments last night I was living in the here, fully present. Not planning for the future or rehearsing the past but actually in my body, and grateful.      

Looking Back

Here I am on March the 10th , in the year of 2015 feeling somewhat grounded.  A place I fight for.  A place I don’t visit often, a place that I am decidedly trying to make my home

He ever so randomly announced to all of his Facebook followers that he is now, currently, newly, in a relationship. 

When I first saw it I thought about how two months ago every other statement out of his mouth was, “I am just not ready for something serious.  I just got out of a five year relationship.” (Let’s keep this casual)  So I honored that.

It leaves me thinking what did this girl do that I didn’t?  How did she turn the “I’m just not ready” into “I am ready right now”?

I wonder what she is like? Authoritative and demanding, or maybe she is sweet and docile?  Makes me think, but doesn’t keep me up at night. 

In all honesty his mind left me wanting more.   I look back, but not wanting to go back.   I suppose I miss a body to sleep next to.  Someone to laugh at my jokes and tell me I am pretty, brilliant, and hilarious.  Those statements are very telling of my heart.

I guess I wanted to matter to him.  I wanted him to miss me when I wasn’t there.  I didn’t want to be casual, cheap, replaceable, light, fading, thin, or sparse.

But I matter to myself, and I remind my heart that my worth isn't tied to the whims or choices of another.

And just for today that is enough.

Beauty in Discomfort

When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.
— Paulo Coelho

Embrace what life gives you and let go when it has filled you with everything you can receive from it. When a relationship, job, place, or situation is no longer serving you, release it. Soak in every experience and learn from every mistake.

Inhale. And then exhale.

My anxiety happens worse during transition or when my body and mind is screaming for one. Embrace the challenge of change and take the risk. There is nothing more frightening than settling down. And it’s not even that I’ve experienced so much that I’m addicted to the chaos that comes with the uproot. It’s the fear that I haven’t experienced enough. That there’s so much more I want to do and want to see that the thought of stagnancy and never working towards something amazing scares the shit out of me.

I can embrace the stress and anxiety to transition into something magical, something more than I’m experiencing now. Paulo Coelho said it best: When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too. There’s nothing that gives life to inspiration like putting yourself in the discomfort of something completely new and striving to be better. Striving to be your best version.

Transition. My soul loves it, hates it, fears it, craves it, but most importantly, needs it.

IMG_1608.JPG