Monday, October 26, 2015

Epiphany at the Wawa

I have spent the majority of my life assuming I am in the way.

To illustrate I will go to the font of all life lessons, at least in the tri-state area, the Wawa. (For those of you unfamiliar with the treasure that is the Wawa, you may substitute, anemically, the 7-Eleven).

The first sign that I am in the way occurs upon entering the parking lot, the most dangerous place to drive in the world. Forget the autobahn, driving in a Wawa parking lot may be the bravest or most foolish thing you will ever do. Everyone is in a hurry to get something, or, once gotten, to leave. They are most likely driving with one hand, or just their knees, while they sip coffee or cram biscuit breakfast sandwiches down their starving and time-crunched throats. And though I see my spot inviting me in the distance, I cannot get there with any efficiency as someone will always be just pulling out, and turning the wrong way while issuing me a look of condescending disgust that not only have I not reversed out of their way, but that I, in fact, exist at all.

Once parking is secured and I have recovered from the blow to my self esteem, I make my way into the Wawa itself, usually to order a meal for one of my ravenous offspring because I ran out of, well, you name it, and could not make them a socially acceptable meal, because, apparently, a bag of multigrain wheat thins and a recyclable container of cinnamon life are not considered a square meal anymore. Once inside, no matter where I stand, whether it is to pick something to drink out of one of the refrigerated cases or to wait for a specially ordered breakfast sandwich(because, of course, they only like one kind, and if it's not on a bagel or if it has turkey sausage rather than mystery sausage it is inedible and how could I not know that), no matter where I stand, I am in someone's way. I'm in the way of the array of coffee urns. Once that is sidestepped I am in the way of the creamer/sugar island. After I dodge that, I am in the way of the trash. Once that is cleared I try to position myself where no one goes in the Wawa, in front of the "healthy snack" rack, but I seem to be there during the one and only three minutes when the transplant from Northern California is jonesing for a Clif bar, and am, of course, in his way. Even when I make it through the check out, the mere act of me putting my change away in my wallet and my wallet back in my purse, puts me directly in the way of the next customer who also seems dismayed at the fact of my existence.

Then back out to the parking lot where my only goal is to get out of people's way, but the inexcusable act of exiting my parking space puts me directly in the way of others exiting, and still others entering quickly with little regard for human life, to occupy the spot which was just vacated, but not by me, because I am in the way by being there and by trying to leave.

The Wawa is not at fault here; nor are her mighty patrons. And I am not at fault either, though I am faulty. The faultiness is not because I am in the way, it is because I assume I am in the way. It's probably because I was raised catholic, or I'm the youngest of six, or I'm a woman, or, more likely it is my own unique ME-ness that walks into any situation convinced that I am an inconvenience. This has caused me to spend an inordinate amount of my life apologizing for my inconvenience by trying to provide others with what they need before they know they need it and have a chance to question my relevance for not having known it in the first place (see bagel parable above). And I've been so busy doing all that, that I never took time to think about what I want at the Wawa.

Now I'm not sure whether to be proud or embarrassed to be having a self-awareness epiphany based on the Wawa. I'm going to choose proud, because at least it didn't happen in a 7-Eleven(did I just lose some of you there?). Ok, back to the regularly scheduled epiphany. Since I've spent so much time apologizing for, or proving the worth of my existence, I have rarely pondered the possibility that my existence is simply a fact, and my presence is not an automatic nuisance (though 7-Eleven is filing an injunction right now). My presence has the potential to alter the universe, for better or for worse, for large or for small, even if it means someone has to manage a few extra steps on the way to the French vanilla coffee dispenser.

There are two phrases gifted to me by two fabulous people that come to mind in the midst of this decidedly un-Aristotelean epiphany:

The first from a friend who learned when an Italian gentleman, baffled by the frequency with which the words "I'm sorry" crossed her lips, offered a simple alternative, say "I'm sexy" instead.

The second from my father. When bombarded by perceived and concocted doom and gloom he issues this warning: "You must be prepared for the possibility that things could go well."

So tomorrow I will venture forth assuming things will go well, because I'm bringing sexy back to the Wawa. You're welcome Justin Timberlake.

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Last Thing I Want to Use my Phone For

I used to love it when the phone rang. The surge of excitement was palpable. My reactions to the trill of the bell tone were:
  • Who's calling me? 
  • Is it him? 
  • Did I get the job? 
  • Am I invited to that party? 
  • Who finds me interesting enough to want to talk to me? 
When Husband and I started dating the delight of the phone call intensified.
  • Is it him?
  • Will there be a second date?
  • I love the sound of his voice.
  • I can't believe he finds me interesting enough to call in the middle of a busy day.
  • Does he love me? I think he loves me? If he keeps calling he must love me, right?
Honestly the ring of the phone made my heart leap; I had to catch my breath, I sped to answer it, it was even a little arousing. It signaled the unexpected in the routine of a day, and with that came the sonorous hope and promise of dreams fulfilled, prayers answered and existence validated.

Now when the phone rings, or vibrates as the times dictate, my reactions are as follows:
  • Fuck.
  • Who wants something from me?
  • Who's in trouble?
  • Who's dead?
  • Who do I have to pick up now because of that emergency at work?
The romance of the ringing phone is gone, and its interruption in the course of a day feels much more akin to a harbinger of doom.

The weird thing is, I love my fancy phone. I love it for all of its purposes save it's main one. When my Soda Candy Crush game is stalled because of an incoming call, I make sure the person on the other end knows by the tone of my "Hello" that this call is unwanted. Instead of rushing to answer a call, I pause over the caller ID to assess if I have the strength to go through with it. And, ironically, the caller I dread the most is Husband. 

My dread has nothing to do with my affection for him; the simple truth is 99.9% of the time he is not calling to profess his love, he's calling because something needs to be taken care of. And the same is true of my calls to him. We are no longer explorers on the brink of all that is possible and exciting, we are laboring in the midst of the particulars of possible. We found what was possible and are desperately trying to maintain it; maybe in an attempt to prove why we strove for it in the first place or maybe because the dream of what is possible doesn't always include detailed instructions of the how of possible. So, the poor phone call has become the victim of my resentment of all the unexpected hurdles of all those expectations I originally loved about its signature ting-a-ling. 

Yet fear not poor phone call, my hostility is fleeting since the circle of life is not yet complete. There will come a time when I catch my breath again at your tinkling song; when I look forward to the sound of my children's' voices calling from the brink of their possibles, or the obliging voice of my grandchildren thanking me for the $5 on Valentines day, or the friendly voice of the Telemarketer asking for a moment of my time.

Just kidding Telemarketer, my hostility for you will never waiver.