A Year is a Fast Thing

French pressed bliss at the Bicycle Cafe in Denver
French pressed bliss at the Bicycle Cafe in Denver

On Halloween night after blowing out all the candles, the dogs and I lay in bed all cozy. In exactly 48 hours I will deeply regret the ten Butterfinger cups I ate while trying and failing to watch a Woody Allen movie, as my skin will explode in another outbreak of adult onset acne. My heart is beating fast from all that sugar while I exchange text messages with this person in New York who fascinates and scares me in equal amounts.

And if I’m honest with you it must be said that finally, or all of a sudden, I’ve found myself on the other side of a year since my life took a sharp left turn. It was more like crossing three lanes of heavy traffic in a large pickup to get into that left turn lane but I’m happy to say I made the light just as it was turning yellow.

In the past year I’ve left my job, packed up and moved from Hawaii, lost 15 pounds on the “stressed the fuck out” diet, hacked off the hair, drove across America and back, completed a pilgrimage in Spain, teetered on the edge of sanity, fell in love with life, proven my inner strength, and best and most of all found a higher power.

You know why. It goes without saying anymore why I’m here and we don’t need to report it or make a big announcement. The good news is nobody died and life always goes on.

Carrot soup.
Carrot soup.

So I’ve learned to see these moments, these beautiful moments of grace in everyday. The handsome man at the Jiffy Lube who opened my car door and told me he didn’t want to be in a bad mood today, the square of sunshine in the kitchen where I stood and ate carrot soup, the cup of coffee I drank in the last of the afternoon sunlight surrounded by crunchy, peach colored leaves.

At work I had one of these moments, while filling a water glass at the soda machine, amidst the chaos of a full restaurant on a Saturday morning, realizing that I am good at this. I can stay calm under pressure, smile and carry three scalding plates filled with pancakes and zip around a high chair without spilling the orange juice. While the coffee spills all over the floor and not a tea pot can be found, while my table flags me down with all three of my arms full from across the restaurant to ask for kosher salt I just smile and nod and keep walking forward into and through the next task, taking another order, pouring another coffee and hoping I remember her wheat toast is dry not buttered and then when I do forget I smile and bring her another.

Something I read recently told me to ask myself what is something I really want to do and then, if it’s been awhile since doing that thing, go out and do it. I love going out to breakfast when I’m really tired, in a sweatshirt and jeans and sleepy eyes and empty belly and someone to talk with. We can talk all morning long about our favorite movies or our horoscopes or what to make for dinner. And we can stay for just a half a cup more.

And that is why working at a breakfast restaurant is the best kind of serving job. I like seeing the family come in with a new baby, finding some solace in their day of diaper changes and fussing. I’m intrigued by the group of friends ordering greasy breakfast sandwiches to settle their hung over tummies. I’m happy to oblige the woman who took time out of her morning before work to order trout and eggs with heavy cream in her coffee, smiling to herself as she savors every bite. I never mind the people who order an oatmeal and a coffee and sit for two hours and leave a three dollar tip because I understand the distinct pleasure of a long morning. My favorites are the tired and weary, those that cup their mugs with two hands and spread extra butter on their pancakes, that thoughtfully peruse the menu and stick around for just a half a cup more. Maybe one of these mornings that will be you and me.

Denver from above.
Denver from above.

For now that’s my plan. To enjoy the little moments in each day that grab me. To enjoy a slowish life of walking dogs and washing dishes and daydreaming and writing. If those things come together, as surely they will, into some resemblance of a “future” or a “goal,” so be it. For today I’m happy to sling eggs and to have a bedroom and to play with my dog.

Walking the dogs.
Walking the dogs.




4 thoughts on “A Year is a Fast Thing

  1. That was really beautiful, Gwen. You’re a very good writer and I think the world needs more of your words in just the way you put them together.


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