I had the day off today. This was actually kind of bad because it gave me too much free time; my mind kept reeling and I’d think about parts of Kim Jonghyun’s suicide note and how relatable it was, or I would remember the last time I saw my friend Tim who passed away last Thursday, or the way Chooch experienced an emotional break when I told him that Tim had died, and I would start choking on my dumb tears all over again while worrying about my friends who are hurting for different reasons and then I would just feel rage at how unfair life is — rinse, repeat. Add in my traditional seasonal depression and soul-sucking bipolar mood swings, and it’s been a real fucking party over here on Pioneer Ave for the last month or so. My contacts are SHOT from all the crying I’ve done recently, good thing I have an eye appointment on Saturday. (Ugh.)
Last night was really bad. As Henry was going up to bed, or as I call it – DITCHING ME WHEN I NEED HIM – I wailed, “I GUESS I WILL JUST EXERCISE AGAIN” and then proceeded to do some YouTube cardio workout while straight sobbing, I mean absolutely ugly-crying, while never breaking stride. Because all I have these days is exercise. My only release.
There is a point to this. I’m getting to it, I swear.
I was looking forward to Chooch coming home from school though, and thought maybe we could walk down the street and get some hot beverages at the new café in Dormont. Of course he was down with this idea because that place can make a million different varieties of hot chocolate.
We were the only patrons, and the barista happily took our orders. This was our third time there since after Thanksgiving, so I think maybe she recognized us. While she made our drinks, Chooch yapped on and on about school drama, as usual. I felt like we were being pretty normal, and I at least wasn’t crying for once. Look at me, out in public and saying words, kind of!
When the barista went to ring us up, she hesitated and kind of stared at the register for a few seconds, I thought maybe she was trying to remember what we ordered or something.
“$4.55,” she said eventually.
“….for both?” I asked with moderate incredulity. I mean, that’s less than I pay for one latte at any of the places downtown on my lunch break.
“Yep!” she insisted, so I shrugged and handed her my credit card. As I was signing the receipt, I noticed her reaching her hand toward my hand. I thought she was just going to point out my finger tattoos, because that’s a thing that happens a lot and it’s OK, it doesn’t bug me.
But instead, her hand kept coming until it landed softly on top of my left hand. I looked up, trying not to show how startled I was, and she looked hard into my eyes and said, “Take care of yourself,” as she slid her hand all the way down to my fingertips. And it wasn’t just a casual thing, in lieu of a goodbye. Like, “Y’all take care now, ya hear?” No, it was more like, “It feels like you’re going through some shit, and I want you to take care of yourself.”
I can’t explain it.
I tried to act calm & cool while I reciprocated her sentiments, and then we all said Merry Christmas to each other as I pushed Chooch toward the door.
As soon as we got out to the sidewalk, my eyes filled with tears and I had this powerful uprising of emotion.
“HOW DID SHE KNOW I’M SO FUCKING BROKEN?!” I cried to Chooch, who shrugged and said, “I don’t know, I just thought she liked you or something.” I mean, maybe on a different day I would have gotten that vibe too, but this felt different. This felt like she fucking sensed that I have been going through the motions, stumbling through my days, putting on a fake smile while feeling so fucking isolated and alone even when I’m surrounded by people I see everyday.
I called Henry immediately and he was like, “Are you sure she wasn’t just flirting with you?” I MEAN I GET IT, I DON’T HAVE A WEDDING RING, HENRY. But let’s not cheapen this moment because it felt like goddamn magic. It was just the kind of human connection that I have been craving without even knowing it. It was exactly what I needed, at just the precise moment, and now I need to work harder to get better.
The latte I got was a Snow Angel Cupcake. I don’t even know what that means, but I feel like it was served to me by an angel for real.