Sometimes strangers make me cheerful! Like little kids in down jackets, arms forcibly splayed sideways, playing with snowballs. That thug-looking teen who gave up his metro seat to that very pregnant woman who had just gotten on the train. Elderly couples who walk hand-in-hand. That beautiful Ethiopian woman who worked at that pizza shop I frequented back when I interned in DC, who called me Sweetie as she brought me my usual veggie slice and lemonade.
Sometimes strangers break my heart.
I was on the train yesterday afternoon when a metro train driver got on my car, wearing the standard fluorescent yellow mesh vest. He slouched into the seat in front of me and pulled out his phone as the train pulled away from the station.
His phone was high up enough for me to see the text he was composing -- I wasn't trying to read it, but there it was. "I don't know what you want me to say. Just tell me what you want to do so we can be done with it."
My inner voyeur jolted. UH OH! she thought. Shit's going down! Then he paused before sending it, and scrolled down so the previous message was showing. The one that prompted his text.
"I think we need to talk," it said. "I'm not happy with this marriage anymore."
I felt like someone had poured ice water down my back. I was simultaneously overwhelmed with awkwardness at unintentionally invading his privacy at what was probably one of his most vulnerable moments; and a bone-crushing sadness, not only to be witnessing the breakup of a marriage, but that said breakup was happening via text message. Text message! He leaned his head against the glass of the train window, as if trying to melt into his surroundings, fluorescent vest and all.
And just the day before, I had felt positively consumed with love. I still do. Life's funny that way.
PS: How about a cheerier post? Let's say, tomorrow? I feel like I've been a downer lately!
Four different people have, within the last five days, asked me if I'm okay.
Not the joking kind, like when you have a coughing fit and, after rounds of semi-restrained laughter and choruses of "DRINK MUCH?!" someone invariably snarks, "Um, are you okay?"
The genuinely concerned kind. The kind that comes with a head-tilt and a lowered voice, as if talking about something taboo, something shameful. As if you've been giving out a vibe that causes your friends to think you're inches away from bursting into tears, or going on some kind of bender.
Am I giving off that vibe? Do I seem weird to you?
It's very sweet, and it makes me feel warm and fuzzy to know that I have such great friends (and family) to be concerned about me when they think something's wrong. On the other hand, I'm getting kind of weirded out.
See, the thing is: I'm fine. There's absolutely nothing wrong at all. Or, rather, nothing more severe than usual. I mean, sure -- I'm a touch anxious about all the pervasive life uncertainty, and yeah, wearing my wool peacoat and my scarves is growing sort of tiresome. But show me the woman who isn'tanxious about something, anything in her current life; show me the woman who doesn't die a little bit inside every day past the Spring Equinox that she wakes up to a forecast of "feels like" 19 degrees. Show me that woman and I will show you a filthy liar.
Friends of mine, you're wonderful. I love you, and I love that you love me back. I love that you're concerned about me.
I have found myself, as of late, swimming through a multitude of unknowns.
White Rabbit recently took a new government job; one that provides a lifetime of constant world travel and new languages. It's an amazing and incredibly exciting opportunity. He's currently in training, and after that he will be sent overseas. He has asked me to come, and I've said yes.
But all possible excitement has been put on hold while we wait for this multitude of unknowns to be answered. Questions like Where?, When?, How long?, and even Who? hang in the air like a frustrating fog, blocking my view of mountains, deserts, coastlines, and urban cityscapes. I'm waiting for that fog to clear; waiting for it to roll back to reveal clear and sunny skies with highs in the low '70s. Northern California girls are used to this sort of thing.
Last night I successfully punched one of my foggy unknowns square in the face -- my apartment lease is almost up, and When? and Who? won't allow me to answer my landlord's equally important question of whether I'd like to sign for a new year. Luckily, I have the best landlords in the world, and although they do not allow month-to-month, they've allowed me a two-month lease extension, so I can give them a final answer after the fog clears. One unknown down, what feels like thousands to go.
After last week's snow, White Rabbit and I drove past this guy, and we just assumed he was drunk.
He loves you, man.
I mean, come on. He's clutching a silver can in one stick-hand, he's staggering to one side, and he's slurring his snowman speech. ...Okay, I'm making a leap on that last one. But when I walked by him again the next morning, I did a double-take. Let's take a closer look at that can...
Don't get me wrong, I love to grab a drink with friends, or stare in awe at wine bars' selections, or sip a pretty (but not too sweet) cocktail created using house-made juices and syrups. And I love a good dive bar -- my favorite, complete with stacks of board games and beers swigged from mason jars.
But the "bar scene"? Paying a cover at Rumors (overpriced even at $5), watching people sing Journey with their eyes closed at Front Page, and waiting in line in the snow outside Lucky Bar do not rank high on the list of ways I want to spend a weekend evening.
However, the birthday girl gets to choose the birthday activity without judgment; after all, it's the bar scene I hate, not her. So on Saturday night, after having a few drinks at her place (a portion of the evening I greatly enjoyed), I found myself in line outside Lucky Bar with a few of the girls. The place was packed inside, so we sidled up the bar to get drinks, then secured a spot in the crowd.
A guy approached us: "Can I ask you girls a question?" I resisted an eyeroll and we humored him. "This girl over there asked me if I could list all five world oceans, and I can only get four of them. Can you name the fifth one?"
He said he had already come up with Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and Arctic on his own. We stared, dumbfounded. Surely four girls with master's degrees could do this? I hazarded a hesitant guess ("Um... Antarctic?") that was met with mocking laughter.
Fine, so I guess geography's not my thing. Another guy approached us with a much different question.
"Hey, can you girls see my nipples through this shirt?"
I laughed. "Um, kind of. Sorry, hon." Ten minutes after he left us, he came back. "Can I ask you girls a question?"
I stopped him. "Wait, wait... is this going to be about your nipples?"
He looked startled, then asked incredulously, "Oh my god! How do you know about my nipples?!"
Good god. Needless to say, I was more than happy to brave the sleet to crawl into bed after that. Oh, and that fifth ocean? The Southern Ocean, also known as the Antarctic Ocean.