Friday, September 06, 2013

Opening presence.

After spin class on Tuesday night, I wasn't looking forward to facing a nearly-empty refrigerator or the annoying-as-hell fruit flies that have never wavered in their takeover of my kitchen this summer (I'm fighting back with sugar water). So I splurged on two of my favorites: good food and a good book.

(Not gonna lie, I also wanted a #treatyoself moment: I found out that a piece of mine will be published here in a couple of months!)

I drove to one of my favorite spots, trying not to care that I was sweaty and still in my gym clothes. "It's just me, actually," I said to the waitress before she could speak - I realize now that I sounded almost apologetic, which is silly, but I don't often go out to eat by myself.

And I had forgotten how lovely it is.

I snagged a booth toward the back and reveled in my dinner (cooked by someone else!) of scrambled eggs with shrimp, avocado, goat cheese and onions. I started to read Anna Quindlen's Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake. I'm not even halfway through, but already I love it. On page four, she writes:
I would tell my twenty-two-year-old self that what lasts are things so ordinary she may not even see them: family dinners, fair fights, phone calls, friends. But of course the young woman I once was cannot hear me, not just because of time and space but because of the language, and the lessons, she has yet to learn. It's a miracle: somehow over time she learned them all just the same, by trial and error.
Even though we do tend to learn it all by trial and error, I have a feeling that every 20something woman should read this 61-year-old woman's memoir. It reminds me that others have gone before, and gotten through it.

And when I say it, I'm thinking of where I am at this moment, not unsettled like I used to be, but not fully settled, either. Happy, but trying to figure out next steps. Muddled about what fulfillment looks like for my person, my brain, my soul. Wondering what 5 years down the road will look like in terms of the six question words we learned in first grade: Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? Some of them have answers now, others have firm hopes, and others still are simply vague musings. And for me, at this moment, it all boils down to this:

How can I keep my patience and my purpose and my presence close right now as the future boils and spins in my head but hasn't even happened yet? I never want to waste. But so often I think I do, when I'm not even thinking.

A new woman chose the bike next to me at spin. "How old are you?" she asked (because I tend to be one of the youngest there).

"Twenty-five," I replied. "Almost twenty-six."

She smiled at my insistence to up my age, and I heard it too, that tic that I've had probably since I could talk - no, I'm three and a half! I'm excited about twenty-six, I think that's why I said it, but I saw her smile and I heard her next words and I sensed the kindness and the lesson behind them:

"Don't jump to twenty-six yet. Stay twenty-five a little longer."

So I will.

No candles and cake, no birthday presents yet. Just presence. As much as I can give myself. 

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