Thursday, January 06, 2011

Moments of Gratitude

Yesterday wasn’t a great day. It started out pretty great, I had coffee and an Ocean Roll with a friend I hadn’t seen for a while and it was just really nice to catch up; she’s one of those people that just makes you feel better being around her. I trotted back to the office in a little happy bubble.

A few hours later, that bubble burst when Reality poked its ugly head into my day. And for such a stupid little thing. But it’s the stupid little things that pile up and overwhelm me. They shouldn’t mean anything, in the grand scheme of Life. Really, what meaning does a cable bill have? Or putting gas in the car? But they’re nagging and immediate and demand to be taken care of. With resources I don’t always have readily available. And some days, like yesterday, it just feels like too much for one person to handle. At least one of me. I found myself wiping away tears at my desk, wanting to go home and crawl under the covers and hide, but knowing that wouldn’t happen because there was more Reality waiting at home for me. Dinner to be made, ballet taxi duties, homework checking and laundry.

I stared blearily at my computer screen until I saw an email pop up. It was from one of my favorite people. It wasn’t a long email; it contained no earth-shattering news of joy or offer of rescue. It just made me smile. It gave me a friendly little connection with something good, at just the right time, and helped me get through the rest of the day. It took just a little feather off of my heavy load, but I felt it and it made a difference.

It’s these little moments of gratitude that my friends give me that make such a difference. They don’t seem like anything that should change my life. Except they really do. And in smaller, bigger, ways, they change me.

My book club has no idea what they’ve meant to me. And, had I met them each individually, in another setting, I don’t know that we would have been friends. At first glance, they’re so different from me. Most days I feel like such a dork. I’m goofy and potty-mouthed. They all seemed so much smarter and I was a bit intimidated in the beginning, watching what I said and choosing my words carefully. Attempting to mirror their sentence structure and Smartness.

Then one night, one book unraveled it all. I found myself emotionally vomiting all over the table after our beautiful dinner. All of these feelings I didn’t want to share with people I hardly knew came spilling out, revealing parts of me I thought would make me as ugly in their eyes as I was in mine. Their simple questions about my thoughts provoked answers that burned like shame.

The next day I received a single email from M that healed it all. My comments, my sharing had meant something significant to someone else. Shame melted into acceptance.

The remaining year of books brought more challenges, frustrations, reflection. And through our dinners, - ham, mushroom sauce, caramel cake, jelly and bread bowls – I’ve learned to trust, accept, and know that I can be myself with people that I really respect. They let me because they are my friends. There are times that I even think I become my Best Self with them, because of our shared love of books. And food.

I love that I have such a variety of friends. Each one gives me something different, teaches me something about myself and about the world.

When I first met C, I thought her goody-two-shoes act was just that. Nobody could be that naïve or that good. Someone once said that rainbows and unicorns follow her around. Maybe they do. Because she really, truly is Good. I didn’t think that kind of person existed anymore, but she does. And because she does, I’m a little less jaded.

From A, I learned to really look below the surface, that people have hidden talents and loves that add more dimensions than you see when you first look. MH has shown me what vibrance looks like.

I know who I can depend on for advice at work. I know who to call when the tears just won’t stop for the hundredth time and she’ll listen with patience and not judgment. I know that with this smorgasbord of friends, I’ll never be hungry.

It might be a simple email or a lazy evening of watching movies. These are my quiet moments of gratitude that keep me going from one day to the next, sometimes even from one step to the next. If I start to tear, there is someone there to fix me. Only they’re not just fixing me. Each time they patch me up, they’re weaving something stronger. Someone stronger.

I’m learning to accept myself because they accept me. For that, I will be eternally grateful. There is no greater gift.


L. Ottaviano said...

A wonderfully honest post. I found your experience in book club interesting because I remember my first impressions at Cookbook Club similarly. I felt like I was intruding on a group of people that knew each other already and I wasn't sure how to "be", or how fast to reveal my "self". One of the first things I remember was your deadpan statement: "If I had a food allergy, I would just kill myself." (or something to that effect) and I thought, "Sweet. I can tell I don't have to worry about expressing myself here." That one line helped me loosen up. Your dialog is peppered with statements like that which hit home and say it like it is. I appreciate that about you.

Kat said...

That is probably exactly what I said, because that is how I feel. There is too much good food to experience to be limited by allergies! I'm glad you're part of cookbook club - should be delicious this week!

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