“happenstance has changed my plans”

I love. This life. And I love days like yesterday, days that grip you by your shoulders and shake you hard to make sure you’re awake and alive, days that pummel you with gifts that are unexpected and often undeserved, that blind you with their beauty…days that leave you slightly paralyzed, blinking quick, shaking your head in disbelief at just how good you’ve got it…days that remind you how good you’ve got it all the time. These days creep up on me, when I’m going through the motions, plodding along through a mediocre week, settling into routine and habit, just being.

This is how it starts. Without a plan, with a vague idea of things you’d like to fit in if time and energy allow. You wake early, in the dark, unaware that today will be different but with a sense, a feeling that you must do as your instincts tell you, today. There will be no pausing to question, to weigh options, to criticize choices past or present, to plan; there’s no need, no time for that today. You watch the sun rise through slits between high-rises from your gym downstairs…you pause to take it in, pause to catch your heavy breath, pause as light floods through tree branches on streets and sidewalks and little old you.

You go to your job, the job you go to every day, on the bus you take every day, but you’re refreshed. You’re awake. And you have 1/2 of a chocolate frosted cake donut waiting for you, which you eat slowly, with warm coffee and fresh crisp fruit. You work; you finish projects, you feel a sense of purpose in your job, one that is often over-looked and forgotten. You get a phone call, from relatives in from out-of-town who somehow, someway, scored lunch reservations at Frontera Grill, a restaurant you’ve dreamt of visiting for years. Your boss tells you to go go go, to take your time, to enjoy; so you do. And as you walk outside you almost laugh out-loud, involuntarily, because that sun you saw this morning has taken over the sky and is beating down on piles of lingering snow. It warms your face and you unbutton your coat for the first time in months and you’re reminded that spring, that change, is bound to come. Everyone around you seems to feel it too; strangers smile, make eye contact, walk a little lighter. You feast, on incredible Mexican dishes, thoughtfully prepared and beautifully plated…fresh chips, guacamole, pork tacos al carbon, tortas, homemade ice cream…this is how it’s done, you think; this is good.

And then, later on. You leave work, and encounter an old, dear friend outside. And since you have no set plan, you’re free to join her for manicures, for conversation. And you’re joined shortly after by more friends, and are convinced to stop by a happy hour just around the corner at a divey little cave of a bar. You drink with co-workers for a while and it’s good, to see people you enjoy and admire outside the limiting walls of an office. Discarded peanut shells litter the ground and music floats over stories of big trips and big ideas and little jokes. You don’t want to leave but do, to make your one planned plan of the day…a much needed hair cut. You’re the last appointment of the day and your stylist takes her time. You talk movies and dating and restaurants and vacations. You relax.

You’d decided earlier on to try to make a concert if time and energy allowed: St. Vincent, at Metro. So you go. You’re scooped up by a friend to grab slices of pizza from a storefront joint and look for tickets. The show’s sold out, so you walk the line at the entrance, begging for extras. And from the row of ticket-less shaking heads and shrugging shoulders appears this guy, standing alone, with an extra. He hands it to you and doesn’t ask for a dime. Just smiles and says he hopes you can put it to use. You want to hug him…but instead you fish around your pocket for ten bucks and promise him a drink inside. Moments later you find another ticket, because today’s your day, and then you’re in. You somehow manage to weasel into spots near the front of the balcony. And you soak up the goodness that comes with live music: sipping beers from plastic cups and getting jostled around and watching talents you’ll never have on display right in front of you.

It’s late when you leave, but you’re hungry. And you’re awake, you’re all fired up from the show and the day and the overwhelming realization that it’s been epic, that it all happened without you planning or doing a thing. And you set aside your pride and allow yourself to be at the mercy of your incredibly generous friend who’s offering to take you to…avec. You race there and make it, just before midnight, just before the kitchen closes. You look at this place, wide-eyed. Sleek and narrow and simple, screaming of modernity and efficiency and style and grace. You’re seated amongst others and your waitress is a saint and you order the most incredible small plates and the most refreshing glass of wine. And you close that crowded hip place down.

You ride home in a daze. And you slip into bed, back to where you started 18 hours ago. You whisper thank you. And you wake up and have no choice but to pour it all out onto paper the next morning and it leaves you breathless. You think about editing what you’ve written…and decide to leave it be. You think about keeping it just for yourself…and decide to share.

This life is a mighty one, isn’t it; with wonder woven into every moment. How dare I forget that, on the quiet gray winter days that sneak by…for those are some of the mightiest. But perhaps I need days like yesterday…to startle me, to humble me. They remind me, gently, to just be. To revel in what’s good, in the good that’s all around me, and to treasure it, to capture it and store it up for the gray days that are bound to come.

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3 Comments

Filed under musings

3 responses to ““happenstance has changed my plans”

  1. Amy

    Absolutely gorgeous! How amazing an ordinary day can be. I only wish I was that long long friend that you bumped into on the street. Keep up the blogging. Love tuning in. 🙂

  2. Tim

    wonderful writing, katie.

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