Three people waved and said “good morning!” to me on the way to and from the coffee shop. I’ve only been here about two weeks but I don’t think I’ve ever even seen three people during my morning routine. Some part of me felt like they knew I needed the wave, smile, and introduction to the day. It felt like a moment from The Truman Show with everyone catching my eye and hitting their mark perfectly.
I didn’t fall asleep until (I’m guessing) around 5 am last night. It was as if my body reached a breaking point and once I was beyond it there was nothing I could do to come back down faster. I had to wait it out. I meditated (three times), read, listened to podcasts, did basic yoga poses, watched funny YouTube videos, etc. I’d have brief moments of reprieve only for my heart to begin pounding again and the dread to settle in. I was so fragile in the morning that considering whether to take the day off work was too hard of a decision–I knowingly clung to my to do list.
I ordered take out for dinner from a spot I happened to snag food from last week. When I walked into the restaurant, they greeted me like an old friend. “I knew that had to be you when you called”. I had only called once before. Another waiter passed by and exclaimed “HEY!” with a twinkle in his eye. We swapped quick tidbits about our days and made jokes about our cooking abilities. A chorus of “see you again soon” rang out from the three staff members as I left.
I have been carried by interactions with strangers before. Once someone was so kind to me when I was so out of it in San Diego that I wrote her a postcard to say thank you before dashing out of the coffee shop. I never went back again. I needed other people today to get out of my head and my overwhelming feelings. Other People ™️ collectively showed up, whether they realized it or not. I started the day in such a fragile state and each smile, kind word, greeting helped put me back together. That’s not even counting those who showed up from afar with distracting calls and sweet texts.
I’m realizing this is likely part of the fall out from the prolonged isolation caused by the pandemic combined with some very intense emotional situations over this last year. I kept wondering what would have helped last night and all I could think of was other people. Someone to talk to. Someone to hug. Someone to go on a walk with. While writing, I realized that these moments did use to happen from time to time in high school, especially after witnessing a traumatic accident that left me with PTSD. I’d text Steven on those nights, “Wanna stay up?”. I’d sneak out of the house and onto my trusty bike, meet Steven at the corner, and head off into the night. We’d bike around to various empty parks, walk around, do pull-ups, talk about everything, nap for a bit, stare at the stars, text ChaCha for jokes, eat candy, on and on. Eventually, the sun would threaten to rise and it was our cue to return home, on rare occassion only to go to school a few hours later. What I would have given to have that last night–to honor the sleeplessness rather than spending hours fighting against it. Perhaps next time that’s what I’ll do.