Wednesday, June 6, 2012

An Unexpected Afternoon

One week ago, I rolled out of bed for my weekly breakfast shift at the restaurant. Usually, I throw my hair up in a bun so that no one notices that I didn't wash it (hopefully) and run out the door in my gym clothes, prepared to go straight to Planet Fitness following my double at work. Last week, I had a strange amount of energy at 5:45 a.m., so I actually washed my hair, put on a sundress, and packed my gym clothes in a bag before walking (okay..running..a little late) out the door. I'm really glad I did.

You see, you never know who you're going to meet on any given day. I certainly did not expect my day to unfold as it did on that sunny Thursday in NYC. I made it to work in time to change out of my cute navy blue strapless dress and into my lovably androgynous uniform, set up the tables, and open the doors by 8 a.m....and wait. And wait. And wait. Was anyone interested in eating breakfast? It's the most important meal of the day, people! And I got my butt out of bed to serve it to you, so please show up. Over an hour after our doors "opened," and I say that lightly because no one actually opened them until 9 a.m., in strolled a tall, impeccably dressed young man with perfect brown hair and, lucky for me, a hankering for a cream cheese bagel. Perhaps a party of one wasn't going to pay my rent, but at least I could stop folding napkins for a minute and bring him a latte. One latte turned into three as he ate his food and I interrupted whatever he was doing on his computer in order to chat for an hour. His English accent was the icing on the cake as I listened to his reasons for visiting New York: he is a motivational speaker and life coach who was in town for 24 hours to meet with four top publishing companies regarding his book about dating. He helps women (and men...but not with this particular book) build confidence in their love lives and in themselves. Something told me he was good at it. Did I mention that I'm glad I washed my hair?

By the time he ordered his third latte, I decided that he enjoyed talking to me as much as I did him. But maybe I like to make myself feel good by imagining a handsome British guy who gives seminars to thousands of people every year would find a little waitress in Times Square interesting. Why not pretend for the sake of a good story? The time came for him to get to his morning meeting, so I brought him his check and wished him the best of luck. He suggested we exchange information so we can meet up next time he's in New York, so I gave him my email address thinking to myself "Well, wouldn't that be nice...but I'm about 95% certain I'll never see this chap again." And off he went.

Three and a half hours later, I'm a sweaty mess in the upstairs corner of our restaurant where the A.C. decided to take a nap and leave me with seven needy tables and a shiny forehead. Real cute. My lunch shift was in full swing, my makeup completely erased, and my head spinning like this: " artichokes...British boy...2 veg 1 seafood...Diet Coke...or was it regular...Get the Guy...refill water...add mushrooms...offer them pepper...I liked his vest." As I was pouring water for table 43, I felt a tap on my shoulder. Not now, busboy. Can't you see I'm busy? He tapped me again. I glanced over my shoulder to shoot the busboy a "give me just a second" look and...


Trying not to pour the rest of the water all over my poor customer's lap, I did nothing but look surprised before Matthew (that's his name, by the way) quickly said, "Come find me for 30 seconds when you get a moment." Wait, what? I thought I'd have to fly to London to see the kid again, and here he was back in the restaurant.

I hastily finished what I was doing and found him standing at the top of the stairs like freaking Prince Charming, so I rushed him down to the kitchen with me, where I needed to fire a food ticket. I could see my managers and a few coworkers watching curiously (and totally ready to make fun of me afterwards) as he asked what time I got off work. He had one more meeting that would end at 4, then had to catch his car to the airport by 6:30. "Could we hang out in that small window of time?" he wanted to know. He must have really liked his cream cheese bagel.

This is LITERALLY what happened after we made fun of yoga.
At 4 o'clock, we met next door to the restaurant and walked to Bryant Park to take advantage of the beautiful weather and the 2 1/2 hours we had before he flew to another continent. As during breakfast, our friendship connected immediately, and we laughed hysterically at our disdain for yoga (only to ironically get kicked out of our grassy spot 30 minutes later so that 200 people could take a free yoga class on the lawn) and about numerous other topics that I can't remember. All I know is that we laughed a LOT. And I made fun of him the entire time for being a fancy life coach- likely to be famous within the next year (though I'm not privy to reveal the details)- and how he won't be seen with lowly girls like me in the near future. He assured me that if a picture of us surfaced, his reputation would definitely take a hit. I'm glad he was as sarcastic as I am. Again, I have no shame in boosting my own confidence.

In the short time we spent getting to know one another, one thing he said really resonated with me. Actually, much of what he said resonated with me, but this one statement stood out. When I asked how he accomplished so much at such a young age, he said something along these lines: "I never tried to accomplish this or that. I just knew how I wanted to live, and lived that way. I'm still living that way. When you know what you want your life to be like, you just live as though it's already that way. Everything else will just happen." He didn't have to try to be successful, because to him, there was no other option but to work in a field he was passionate about and not partake in a mundane existence. What an extraordinary mindset. I've grown up hearing "don't try, just do" from my mom, but the way he exemplified that mantra sparked a new excitement within me. Explaining this ideal on paper...well, computer difficult. But we have to stop thinking about how we want to live in contrast to how we are currently living, because that means that there is the option of living in a way other than how we desire (that way being our current condition). If there is no other option, then we can only live how we want to live- which means that we must be currently living that way, whether there are tangible accomplishments reflecting that desired life or not. Those tangible things will come. We choose our life's puzzle, easily creating the borders of how we live. The rest of the pieces will fill in in due time. I'm sure that much of that was hard to grasp, but the point is this: live as though mediocrity is not an option. If it's not an option, it will not appear. In its place will be passion, energy, creativity, and pioneering.

My new friend hopped in a car at 6:30 and is now back in London (or whatever city he's in on any given day for his numerous projects), leaving me with plenty to think about and pleasantly content after a day of laughter and deep thought. I'll probably never see him again, but the moral of the story is this: wash your hair daily. KIDDING. It's that we can affect other people's lives in one afternoon. In one conversation. In one sentence. Live a life you're proud of, a life you can share with a stranger you meet at breakfast. You may not be instant friends with everyone you meet as Matthew and I were, but every once in while, you'll be able to spark excitement in the heart of someone who speaks your same language.

On another note...Sunday night, I went to the launch party of TWELV Magazine to support our Miss New York co-host, Hunt Ethridge, on his work with this awesome, up-and-coming publication! I encourage everyone to go buy a copy of TWELV :)
My beautiful Miss New York roommate- Miss Gotham City, Acacia Courtney

Bronx, Metropolitan, Gotham City