I didn’t have coffee until after ten o’clock this morning. This is unheard of, really. I am one of those people that pours my first cup of joe with my eyes half open, on the way to the shower. And then I wonder, every time, why I didn’t just wait until after the shower because it gets a little cold on the bathroom counter, waiting for me.
The best mornings are when I can pour that first cup with my eyes half open and then sit in my pajamas on the couch. Lately I need slippers. Minnesota is showing us her master plan for winter early. We are nervous about what she has up her sleeve, but we are pretending, and sometimes meaning, that we love the crisp reminder to snuggle in, wrap up, slip on soft things.
Lately there is so much to do, more than ever. My body is different because of it. More hunched, tight, sore. I feel my age more than ever before, maybe even older. This is what it is to move forward, keep going, plod on, soft or not.
The last time I was a server I was almost twenty years younger. My feet would only hurt if I worked a double. My back? Never. It was so much easier, though I remember being exhausted, it wasn’t exhaustion. Now I go from the cafe, to our new building, to mow or paint or bring in vintage furniture. Then I rush home, to change the laundry, fight the pile of dishes, mow the lawn. (I will not miss mowing this winter.)
This is not complaining. This is just a story about life as it is right now. My three little troopers seem to get a kick out of mom’s jobs. They love The Middle Fork, especially its caramel rolls. They love The Building, how it’s hours. How they can help. How it sits across the street from the park.
There is no longer a fight in me, against the work. Against the grind. I don’t know exactly why. Maybe I’m just too tired. Maybe I’m doing things I love to do. Maybe it’s just time.
Life is work and work is life and then we get to have love and the smallest and biggest of beautiful things.
I am sometimes straining my neck to see ahead, to plan, to dream. Nothing is bad about that. Unless I am pulling my eyes from today and right now, I can’t be doing that. It’s too intense. It’s such a relief. And I’m so tired.
I can hear a voice around the corner and I know that voice. It’s a friend’s voice. At the table in front of me is a face I recognize but can’t place. Maybe I see her mother in that face. Maybe I knew her when she was four. She is texting madly and eating a caramel roll. Of course.
The kids have a good good friend in the girl across the street from where I rent. They rode the bus for the first time because she wanted them to come along with her. They have never wanted to brave it before. I understood. The bus can be hard. I can remember the cussing the hair pulling, the bullying and the cliques. But just as so many other things, I also remember learning to rely on my friends, find safety in support, and eat the caramel out of the candy bar before the chocolate. I learned to look to Bob, the driver, for his kind eyes and the way he’d constantly check back, unable to keep up with all of it. I learned to talk to him when I got off and on. I learned to wait in the cold.
I found my Jenna, my lifelong friend. And I still travel those same dirt roads to get to her. The roads we bumped along from the back of the bus, together.
Hard is always redeemed, I believe that right down to my slippers-needing toes.