The greatest thing I heard at work yesterday: A Spanish-speaking woman, with whom I had talked earlier in the day when she was making an appointment, brought her child in and when she saw me she asked if I had been the one she had talked to, and when I said yes she said she couldn’t believe I was American, that on the phone she never even thought she wasn’t actually speaking to a native Spanish-speaker. It completely made my day!
Cinco de mayo
I was mad. It was my day off and my plans had suddenly been changed by my mom. I was unshowered, still a bit sleepy-eyed, and at the gas station pumping just enough gasoline for their lawnmower that I had already thrown a rib out trying to start that morning so I could mow my parents’ lawn. Grumpy.
Then I saw her. I might as well call her a kindred soul or mentor or angel en vivo or something like that. We’re a generation apart, but the moment I heard her open her mouth and made a comment at a church meeting, I knew we’d get along and be friends. We embraced, I told her she had caught me a bit grumpy and unshowered, and then we started chatting about some of the plans I have rolling around in my head. Then half-joking I admitted I sometimes feel a bit stupid here having no property, children, husband, and not even a dog or cat.
There are times at work or church–especially now at church since I have new responsibilities, one of which is attending the Spanish ward service–but there are times at both when I look at moms with their kids and think how easily our situations could switch and I could be the hip mom caring for beautiful kids. I could be half of the beautiful couple that comes in with the beautiful new baby. Other times I’m perfectly content that I’m not the obese, haggard mom dragging six screaming kids behind her, four of whom have ADHD, and another one on the way, yelling at them to stop climbing on everything or stop whining. I’m totally fine not exchanging situations with that mom. Happy where I am, thanks! But then in a conversation with someone I’ve just met at church or at work, I have to field question after question about my marital status, or lack thereof: am I married, do I have any children, don’t I want to get married, why am I not married, why am I not married to a nice Latino boy, why am I not married to the nice Latino boy(s) I’ve dated, do I want some recommendations…and this is within the first 45 seconds of meeting someone! Seriously, people, don’t you think that’s just a little invasive with someone whose name you don’t even remember? So I wonder (sometimes simultaneously) how moms have gotten where they are and how I ended up here and even though I think marriage and kids can be an incredible gift (Lord knows my heart pains enough on its own without them, thank you very much) and I respect that they are rightfully the center of their lives, but can’t anyone talk about anything else even remotely interesting? Oh, and by the way, I’m not a freak, people.
But back to my grumpy, unshowered self and my dear friend chatting at the gas station. She stopped me in the middle of my half-joke. “Your life is obviously not taking you in a typical direction,” she said, “but when that happens, don’t fight it. That’s what your life is bringing you. Accept it and go with it,” she counseled (or at least something very close to that). And that’s what makes the extraordinary possible so be like water, I thought as I threw my arms around her and exclaimed, “I love you! Thank you!” Then I wondered if the unshowered part I’d mentioned earlier bothered her at all, so I let her go.
I later realized I couldn’t legitimately be grumpy for something that led me to that unexpected nugget of warmth, that agate of vision and love in a rough day. And so I accept that my life has not moved me in a typical direction, that I have amazing opportunities that couldn’t have come otherwise, that with those opportunities come additional opportunities and other weighty things, and I accept that moving through my life right now may not bring me an oasis just yet but instead open just enough nuggets like that to give me focus and keep me going. I accept it and offer gratitude for it.
Oh, and for the record, I mowed my parents’ lawn and I mowed it artfully.