Capturing life in words…
I was done. Finally. My mouth was dry– probably from nervous excitement. So I pulled my new behavior out of my pocket– sitting with silence. I sat with the silence. I had pled my case. The ice in my tea was halfway melted (Had I talked that long?!), the condensation on the glass long since beaded and dripped. Now trailing undisturbed down the glass and darkening the wooden table. I was thirsty for both cold wetness and her thoughts. My tongue nervously wet my lips, longing for a sip, yet I was looking at her to see what she thought.
I learned somewhere the real truth can be seen better in non-verbal communication … so I stared at her familiar face, trying to read what she thought. She was slowly stirring her half-finished tea with the straw, quietly and pensively swirling the amber liquid. She seemed transfixed, staring deeply, as if translating a message. I know some people read tea leaves, but have yet to learn of reading swirling ice in tea.
I cleared my throat and fought the urge to say, “Well?”. Silence is my new friend, I reminded myself. I opted instead to grasp the lemon still perched on the rim of my drink, squeezed it too hard over my tea, and without thinking tossed it in the bush next to the porch. It wasn’t even my porch, but heck, I’ll tip the waitress extra. And it’s good for the ecosystem. Martha Stewart had bragged once about making her own compost pile from peelings, so I was doing my part to help the earth. Gawd, why this sudden irritability?
When I ordered my tea, I was buoyant– even humming as I looked over the list of organic teas and various flavors. She liked these type of places. I enjoyed the breezy ambiance, but could care less if a tea was organic, grown in Thialand or a blend. The flavor of the cafe’ itself appealed to me. It’s simplicity said, “sit and chat for awhile”– and plentiful outdoor seating.
I so loved nature. I often wrote outside just to hear the birds chirping, and the wind chime moving behind me, the breeze lifting a strand of my hair as I worked. All these things I loved did not exist in the job I had before the car accident which gave me a few months off work. My Master’s degree job to which I was slave. It was rush-rush; a lot of paperwork and forms. Phone calls. Forms. More phone calls. More forms with tiny boxes reducing people to numbers, diagnosis codes and insurance percentages paid. Ugh. Dreary dribble draining life out of my days, bleeding it’s blah into my nights as I drove home with tight, aching shoulders, weary eyes and a workbag in the passenger seat. The bag often was hard to zip close (HIPPA rules all documentation must be within a closed bag or case so names could not be seen), stuffed full with more documentation to complete at home.
I repeated as gently as possible my last sentence, “I am not a documenter, but a writer– I want to live … not fill in boxes.” She looked up from her tea, and parted her lips … as she began to speak, my mind exploded. Here I was … again.
Pieces of yesteryear tumbled through my mind, the pattern suddenly was crystal clear. Memories of events were reeling so quickly through my mind, I was not able to concentrate on what she was saying. I saw me at age 5 seeking validation through pictures carefully colored with generic crayons; my need to feel like a favorite student by my teachers, and feeling so special when asked to help her grade papers; my insecurities not allowing me to be okay in college with anything but an “A”; and my obtaining not one, but two college degrees; and how in every job I worked long hours and took on special projects willingly. The pieces were falling gently into place…
I tried to focus on what she was saying, but could not do more than catch, “you’re such a good social worker … all that time in college,” and I burst into laughter. Not just a short chuckle, but a laugh which, had I drank more tea, would have caused me to cross my legs to prevent any embarrassing issues. She stopped talking and stared at me– her jaw slack, mouth open and eyes wide, her hand frozen still holding that stupid straw.
I reigned in the desire to fall-out and roll around in the emotional glee, and breathlessly said, “Yeah, I know. But now it’s all different- everything!” She closed her mouth and pulled out the I-am-worried-about-you-look I have seen many times, which always gave me such stress.
“It’s okay– finally! Now I have faith and writing. God and passion for life.” Her eyebrows knitted together as she began to sputter.
“But people just don’t do that… you don’t just take a Sabbatical and write. I mean… well, what about your retirement money?”
I looked at her and smiled, a bit sad for her. She was still slave to the world. I understood her fear. I was living there too. I was taking a risk. For life. For love of life. I grasped her hand warmly — with the damn straw and all. I smiled. I told her thank you and I love you as I serenely looked into her baffled brown eyes. I could not make her see my journey, as I myself only could see up the first step or two. Faith is like that. You can see as far as headlights shining into the night, but no more.
I motioned for the waitress who was eyeing our table anyway with interest, but nothing more. I grinned as I realized I truly did not care IF the waitress had an opinion of me or not. Another chain fell from me.
“May I have the check please? I think I’m done here. And, can I have a to-go cup for my tea?” No more stagnant cups of coffee at a desk under fluorescent lighting.
A warm breeze caressed my face. I closed my eyes to savor the feeling. I never felt so alive.
“Thank you,” I whispered.
Thank you, Father for helping me see it’s okay to be me… I can drink tea without a straw and try my hand at a passion. I am no longer slave to society… not this girl.
I am a child of God. He has said, “Write.” That’s all I know for now.