“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”Gilda Radner

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Peaceful, Easy Feeling

Sometimes, there's a time in life where everything screams that what you're about to do is logically and inherently a bad idea, and you do it anyway. And sometimes, it blows up in a million pieces. Other times, however, it ends up being just exactly right.

I learned in a pretty harsh and brutal way when I was twenty-three that everything I had believed to be true was...not. I learned that things I had either taken for granted or dismissed completely made the biggest difference not just to me but to life in general. But hardest of all was that I suddenly knew in the most crystal clear way that I was not the person I always thought I was. It was like every time I looked in the mirror I was meeting a new person. Of all the words to describe the feeling that evoked, I can only come up with...weird. Unsettling. Upsetting.

But there was this one night where I realized that all of that was okay. That I was okay, and everything else would be, too. You see, it was one those times where I did the dumbest thing possible. Having realized I knew nothing of myself or the world, I called up a boy. This would be the exact moment where a best friend or a sister or a mom would stretch their lower lip off to one side in a grimace and say, "Is that really a good idea right now?" And they did say that, all three of them. But I did it, anyway.

When I climbed into that boy's black Chevy Blazer, the strangest thing happened. It seemed that despite all my own personal confusion, he knew me. He knew all about me, including the mess I was at that very moment, and he could look me in the eye and say, "You look great." He asked, "Are you cold?" and pretended the button for the seat heater, located along the bottom side of the seat, would be impossible for me to find. He leaned all the way across me from the driver's seat, his arm across my waist, to flip it on for me.

Then, across the shadowed console of the dark car, he took my hand and started to drive. Red taillights glowed against our faces, and green traffic signals and white streetlights. We started at one end of Union Road and drove as far as it would take us. An hour and a half later, we were in another county. He swung the car through a U and headed back from where we came, stopping off at a Mexican restaurant that featured a mariachi band. He opened the car door for me, quickly grabbed my hand up again, and walked me inside.

I wasn't really hungry. He ordered himself some food, and when the waitress came over to check on us and asked, "Is everything okay?" he said, "No, it's really not good," because it wasn't and he's like that. The waitress walked away in a huff, and he looked over the table at me with his eyes all a'twinkle. He smirked, reached over and covered my hand with his. Almost more than anything, I remember how he just didn't want to let go of me.

Then the mariachi band took their break and regular music came through the ceiling speakers, probably a little louder than they intended. As the words to the song began and we recognized it, he started to sing. First quietly, and then a little louder and more boldly.

When I was a little girl, I always imagined that a boy would stand under my window with a guitar and sing to me. Then when I was a teenager, the fantasy changed to a boy in a trench coat with a boom box held up above his head. And now, I realized that the gesture was finally happening. Not outside my bedroom window, but in a Mexican restaurant whose food had not been good that night and whose mariachi band was on a break.

There's absolutely no reason that something so mundane should be important to me. But like everything in life, it was more about when it happened and how it lined up with everything else that was going on that made it matter. A long drive in the car at night, holding hands with an old friend, lousy food at a Mexican restaurant...so what? Except it was that night that I suddenly remembered who I was after all. Sometimes we have to remember we aren't just individuals struggling through a journey alone. We're meant to have right times, right places, and right people around us to offset the unfair imbalance that life often brings. They give us that small tilt, a shift, a nudge in the other direction, so that things fall evenly and we can say, "Hey. I'm going to be okay." So that in the middle of a big mess, we can get a...peaceful, easy feeling. ;)

I guess what I'm trying to say is, sometimes the thing that seems like the worst idea can lead to the best of everything.

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