Friday, November 5, 2010

Sweet Potato Cake and Old Ladies

This back-dating thing is not working for me. I wrote this post, on paper, in a coffee shop on Tuesday. I found myself in a similar state of mind on Friday morning and pulled it out of my purse and wrote some more. I intended to go back and edit Friday afternoon for posting that night. But I never got around to it, and the emotions I felt then are not what I'm feeling now and I find it hard to edit and write now.

Hold on, lemme go get a diet coke and some wheat thins and see if that helps . . . No, it did not. The wheat thins are stale. Gross.

Okay, so Tuesday. Monday and Tuesday are busy days in our house. By the time I drop off both girls at their "religion class" I breathe a HUGE sigh of relief because I have MADE IT and the rest of the week isn't quite as busy. I have about 90 minutes to myself on Tuesdays. Sometimes I go into the church adjacent to the girls class, but on this Tuesday I decided that a cupcake was in order and decided to go and look for a cupcakery I had heard about in the neighborhood. They didn't have any single cupcakes for sale, so I looked next door and found a little cafe/coffeeshop. I was feeling some significant tension in my shoulders and chest (I believe it is called anxiety) and I KNEW that I needed to just sit down and chill out for a little bit. BADLY. I ordered a cup of coffee and a piece of sweet potato cake (OH.MY.GOD!!!) and just let myself be for a little bit. Here's what I wrote:

My heart feels heavy and my stomach is in knots over the busy-ness of the past two days and the past two weeks and some other stuff. I haven't taken time to think in a few days, and I know that I need to. There's an older African-American woman running the cafe with long gray dreadlocks and a kind, but no-nonsense manner about her. I feel like I want her to hug me - to tell me that it's going to be okay. WTF ? Why do I want this stranger to hug me ?

I realize what it is - I don't have any mature, older, gray-haired women in my everyday life right now. For a long time, at least since I was 18 and started college, I had older women in my everyday life. A supervisor at my work study job in college; the receptionist, Shirley at another office at the University where I had a student job; Sheila at another job after graduation, Kim (not an old lady, but still a wise woman) at another job, and probably the best of them all, Ms. Willie. Ms. Willie worked in the dining hall when I was a student and was still there when I went back to work as an adult. She liked it when I told her that I've known her longer than my husband. She was one of the few people that I told when I was pregnant with twins and that there was something wrong. She took one look at me that day and said "Baby girl, what is wrong with you ? What is wrong?" and that was all it took for me to burst into tears and tell her.

I don't have anyone like that right now and I miss it.

Sometimes, this pace of mine is exhausting. Managing so many other people's expectations of me can be overwhelming. When I stop and sit for a minute, it can be exhausting. But I get up and keep going because there is a phone call to make, an e-mail to return, someone to talk to calmly about something. A good 50% of this is my own doing - my own desire for perfection, my own desire to be needed. I guess that I'm just glad that I give myself a break. I don't rush home to make the call, to write the e-mail during this 90 minute break. I just sit.

In this cafe/coffee shop, there is a deep couch. Big, big windows with the late afternoon sun slanting through make it warm inside but not hot. The traffic is getting heavy outside, but in here it's quiet with the light music and a couple muted conversations punctuated with laughter.

I try to catch my breath. Sweet potato cake really helps with that.

As I paid my tab at the end of my visit, the lady behind the counter engaged me in conversation. She asked if I was from around here, yada, yada. It wasn't the hug I found myself unexpectedly looking for, but it was some kindness from a stranger and was exactly what I needed.

Interestingly enough, I found two other opportunities in that week to just sit. I had 30 minutes in another coffee shop while waiting for a kid to finish a class, and I had a good 20 minutes at the hair salon while I was processing. I know myself, and instead of picking up my book during those times, I need to close my eyes and just breathe. I think part of what compounded my angst on that Tuesday was that I'm listening to a great audiobook in the car and am not using my commute for my thinking time. I need to remember to be mindful of that.

So, I'm posting this on Monday, November 8th, back-dating it to Friday, November 5th. I am so freaking excited that tomorrow is Tuesday again and I get to go back to the cafe/coffee shop again.
Edited to add: I feel kind of self-indulgent publishing this soliloquoy of a first world problem. But they were my feelings, in that moment, and while I have a lot of perspective on my life, I was feeling blue at that time.

1 comment:

{sue} said...

I must find this coffee shop. Also, very interesting observation on the older woman. I hadn't realized but this is one of the things I miss about working. I've always had a few fairy godmothers and right now, I don't have any.

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