Goodbyes

People give a shit about other people.

I have never said goodbye to so many people.

Chai Tea and Honey. Nestled into the present. Ensconced. I remembered. I made it back.

Yesterday I melted back into the world.

No hatred, no anger, no competition, no anxiety. Just life. And peace with change.

I found my zen again. And I found out what I could just let slip by.

It came during a jog that I really didn’t want to go on, but made myself. I could hardly stand it once I started- the amazing weather, the new scenery, the time of day, the music, the air. And being one with my body and the world. Embracing it all and seeing where we can go from there instead of falling into desperation at the vast amount of perceived inadequacy.

Perfection.

The world really is fucking perfect. If only that it gives us the chance to change it.

I am done babying myself- I am ready for spartan life. I am ready to make the most of what I have, not wasting any more time longing after what I don’t have.

I also realized I have a lot of running to do, still. I am in no way ready to settle down into any lifestyle.

There are a few things that I want to really dedicate myself to in the next few years, but the rest is open to chance.

I’m going to stop talking as much, and start doing a little more.

I’m going to make this life, and die trying.

And I’m pretty happy to be here.

Last night working with Bekah at the women’s center tonight.

We have so much fun together. She was the first friend I made there, and the most special. She’s really opened my mind up to the idea of constant change, and broken my stereotype of traditional Kansans.

I think the first thing we ever bonded on was anxiety. We both experience the same struggles, and shared stories, remedies and understanding. The fact that that was the first thing ever brought up between us, something that neither of us really likes to share with other people, says a lot.

She later told me about her dreams of becoming a doula. How she’s going to nursing school this year. We talked about all the benefits of natural birth, of which she is infinitely knowledgeable, and then slipped into feminist theory. From which we never really returned.

I mean, we talked about everything under the sun, but gender and sexuality usually had an undertone in most of our conversations. Whether we were talking about relationships, media, cultures, freedom, current events, our lives.

She was in the process of changing when I met her, and she’s changed so much since. She is constantly taking in new ideas and bouncing them around just like me. So it’s really exciting to get together and let the ideas flow, the judgment gone.

I can’t quite put my finger on why we are so similar, but I think it probably has to do with being good at social cues, while also very introspective and creating who we want to be instead of reacting.

I’m pretty sure we’ll keep in touch- sending each other new ideas and good books whenever we come across them. She says she wants to come visit California this year as well. She just got married last weekend and wants to run away by herself for a few weeks.

From the first day I met her we’ve literally talked the whole 5-8 hours during a shift together and never run out of things to discuss. We start out immediately when we walk in the door, and then realize five hours later that we’re about ready to pass out from hunger, so go to the kitchen and fix food in near desperation.

She just got her dream job at a hospital in the birthing unit, so we’re both moving on with our lives.

Yesterday Misha was making sandwiches and answered the cafe phone saying, “Hello, Green Apple Brie!”

John and I had a pause in the conversation we were having at exactly that point, and we all cracked up. Misha stoically attempted to continue on with the phone conversation with the customer, but kept bursting out laughing every few seconds as well.

“For a bunch of people who spend their days working with the public full time, we are all slightly socially incompetent,” I observe.

“There is an irreplaceable bond created through absurdity,” John says.

I agree with this statement, there is something quite endearing  and universal about helplessness in the face of ridiculous situations. And owning it is heroic.

Right after this Misha somehow accidentally squirts chocolate under her sleeve and down her armpit.

And then L, the most beautiful person to ever frequent this cafe, walks up. He is a Russian/American student who did his undergrad in Hawaii, played professional tennis for a few years and is now doing his masters in comparative politics here. He likes to talk to me about his thesis on diversionary war.

I asked L what he thinks it is that binds all of us together. Why we are all slightly socially incompetent and in our own heads while at the same time very extroverted and people loving.

He, in his standard style, takes the question very seriously. He goes into a long monologue about human nature v. nurture. Throwing Hobbes and social contract theory in and then concluding with the fact that people can get along with anyone. It’s just a matter of understanding one another. We are born with a biological starting point, but what really matters is the environment we surround ourselves with throughout life, and how much we challenge our own beliefs to truly learn about others’.

He said people are naturally loving, regardless of social contract theory. We are naturally loving, but it is merely lack of understanding which separates us, leading to such things as wars.

The more we learn, the less likely war becomes.

I challenged him, but I like his idea. It’s very nice, and pretty much what I believe in theory as well. Maybe I can learn to believe it in practice.

He ended by saying that the glue that bound our cafe regulars and workers together is a tougher problem to solve.

“Tougher than human nature, L?” I joked.

He said, yes, it is. In his characteristic “there is no argument here” Russian manner.

About ten minutes he comes back. He has been thinking about it this whole time. He says,

“Regularity.

We see each other everyday. So we learn who each other are and how each of us reacts to certain things, and it becomes comfortable. So we only seem similar due to understanding. We need not have any similarities at all.”

I said, thanks, L.

And the Misha told me he could read a phone book to her and she’d drool.

I’m setting myself free and literally throwing unnecessary guilt and baggage away for good.

Suitcase life is all I’ve ever wanted. And memories I want to keep.

Work was good today, because I went in with a smile. Also I had warm socks and a scarf on a cool fall day.

Emma and I crouched behind the counter like pirates all day and made warm drinks for rowdy, sea faring travelers.

Zach talked to me about his relationships, and we laughed about funny things we both see but don’t know how to put into words. They are probably painful conversations to watch.

I love Zach and Emma. They’re some of my favorite people here.

Emma scares the shit out of everyone with her blunt manner, and Zach scares the shit out of everyone with his absurdly caring and considerate manner toward them.

Mom and Pop stopped by for a coffee and a paper before our morning rush.

Everyone made me smile today.

And after work I went jogging in the park, where I saw regulars from work as I rounded the loop.

Came home and took a shower, then opened a beer at 2 pm, and currently sitting outside in the sun and the cool fall breeze. Cicadas singing along with spotify, and Boulevard Wheat tasting better than it has in a long while.

I’m going to just journal for awhile in the sun. I think I’ve gotten into such a habit of writing on this blog that I forget to write for myself anymore. And I would have to say, all my bests thoughts come from writing for myself. I could use a few new best thoughts.

It’s beautiful outside and the world is wild and untamed.

I fucking love it.

Finally.

“The sound of sunshine coming down.”

These two German students doing internships here. I lose my shit every time they come in. At first I don’t recognize them, and then I see the F grinning at me. I still don’t realize how I know them until I see the other one, D. And then I react with excitement because they have made my day, “GUYS!”

D, the one with glasses, always orders first making wordplay jokes along with mild social commentary. And then F, the blond one, orders second with an irresistible grin on his face and minimal words. It’s the eyes that show the true smile. His eyes sparkle like stars.

I ADORE THEM.

They’ve always come in together, and order the same thing. Recently however, they have been switching it up because I had been poking fun at their choice of drinks.

They were so surprised I remembered their names today. I made myself practice after they told them to me. I downplayed it and said, “It’s my job.” But the truth is, I only remember the people I want to.

I think they’re leaving this week or so. Too bad, I feel like they are some people I could see myself getting along really well with.

Of course, if we ever did hang out, it would have to be a package deal. I couldn’t just talk to one, I couldn’t even imagine one of them existing without the other.

I LOVE THE QUIET PEOPLE.

They have the best smiles. And some of the best vibes.

 

Today I had my last shift with Emma. I’ll miss her, she’s one of the sassiest, hipster girls I know. She’s got a giant octopus tattoo covering her back and is in school for print making. We always wear the same clothes on the same day- cozy gray, black and navy blue boys’ sweaters. And green henley button ups with our sleeves rolled up to make espresso drinks.

She is one of my favorite feminists. Her mom is a professor of women’s studies who never shaves her legs and always wears shorts and gypsy jewelry.

Em is very aggressive. She will most likely rule the world one day.

After work, I went back to my car to change for my jog. I had worn long warm wool socks to work over my yoga pants, and changed into regular black socks sitting inside the trunk of my car in the shining sun.

People pulled up and said hello to me and I jumped up and looked around, socks flying all over the place, manically attempting to pretend that I was fully dressed.

To no avail.

They know me.

If I’m not acting like a minor awkward moment is the end of the world, it probably is the end of the world.

So let’s continue with the broken sentences and non sequiturs, please!

In actuality though, today I had some of the smoothest social interactions I’ve had in awhile with the community.

And after last week, I should hope things had calmed down a bit. Last week I kept hearing myself talking, but couldn’t shut myself off. I just kept going, horrified at the words coming out of my mouth, increasing with each interaction. And the more horrified I became, the more the stream of consciousness tripped over tender spots, wounding all parties involved.

“I LOVE YOU ALL, SO MUCH. I JUST DON’T KNOW HOW TO SPEAK HUMAN.”

Went for my jog, and decided to go in a different direction than the park today. Headed into the neighborhoods downtown, looking for the town hill. Ended up at the country club accidentally, and jogging past a woman peeked out her door at me, and then quickly slammed it shut as if I were running toward her to rob her. I jogged back toward civilization and finally found top of the world, and hiked around a bit. The sun was shining so bright, and it was such a welcome relief from the past week of frigid cold.

I need the sunshine, love.

Hiking around, I saw another person through the trees, and quickly jumped down a ditch and took another trail away from them. I had no intention of words ruining my mysterious and athletic loner afternoon to myself. I wanted to be lost in the world alone for a few hours.

Also, I just didn’t want to go through the awkward situation of squeezing past one another on the cramped trail.

Hiking down the town hill, I realized I was following the drainage path- an almost vertical drop down, I was clinging to roots of trees coming out of the ground for stability.

I retraced my steps, and got some interesting looks from all the people sitting at the top of the hill on the letters. They had been watching me. I wavered back and forth between a few different paths, and then finally decided to go on the one that went past my old friend’s house. Lots of memories. Most of high school.

I sang along with my mp3 player all the way down the hill, practically skipping with the sunshine beating down on my skin.

At the bottom of the hill, I took a moment on a cement structure to stretch under a tree.

A minute later, M jogs past, her focus and determination of the hill ahead of her. I say hello, and we talk for a bit. Then we part ways and I head back downtown.

Downtown I walk in work to grab my drink, and answer the cafe phone for my coworkers who are slammed. Then I drive home, running into M again at the intersection!

She is a wonderful human being.

Anyone who runs is generally a wonderful human being, but she is especially great. One of the most artistic and authentic people I know. She just got back from working at an artist cooperative in NYC!

Back at home, I opened a beer, and went to study out in the sun. The sun turned out to be leaving for the day, so I grabbed a sweatshirt and scarf.

Ten minutes later I was passed out asleep in the backyard on the the patio bench.

And I was out for about two hours.

There’s something beautiful about sleeping outside accidentally. It feels really natural even though it also feels inherently vulnerable.

The rest of my day was fairly predictable, we had Sunday night dinner with Ben over skype, and then I retreated up to my room for soul searching existential crises, getting rid of shit out of my closet and reading Ayn Rand.

And then I decided to type up a tremendously long blog post about a very ordinary day.

I think I probably need to either have more adventures, or else find additional outlets for my writing.

I feel like the mundane has always been my specialty, though. Because I don’t believe in it.

 

Yesterday was my day off, I spent the morning drinking coffee and reading.

Around eleven in the morning I finished my coffee, and looked around for something else to drink. I started in on the beer.

Continued reading all day, slightly tipsy and cold in the 60 degree weather we’re having here. It’s truly fall now .

Had dinner with the family, and then Maretta came over and cracked us all up.

After dinner I headed out to the soccer fields to meet my friend Morgan, who was my first new friend moving back to town last fall. She was the first person who truly made me feel like I fit into the world again.  She’s hilarious, super smart and obsessed with fitness. We’re very different, but get along like sisters.

She began dating her current husband when she was 14, and married him last year when she was 19. She comes from a tiny Christian community in western Kansas, but she is anything but closed minded. I think she might be one of the most open minded people I know. And definitely one of the most independent.

She got a new job across town a few months ago, but has been hanging around the cafe a lot in the past few weeks. The first time I saw her she slammed into me, yelling “Annie. I’m doing it!” And then poking me in the stomach, “I’m living the full college experience!!”

Morgan has never been in college because she is helping to pay for her husband’s medical schooling, but apparently he’s been out of town for a job for the past few months, and she has radically changed her lifestyle.

She was always different than your traditional 19-years-old-and-married-to-the-first-man-you-meet lifestyle, but marriage was still always a big part of her life.

Now that he’s gone, she has made friends with about 20 boys from Saudi Arabia, and she hangs out and parties with them almost every night.

They’re who we went to see play soccer. Soccer and the Arabic language go together in a beautiful way.

She told me about how a lot of her Christian friends were skeptical of her new friends, and she said she didn’t give a fuck. And she thinks these guys are a lot better people than most of the people she knows, and she loves hanging out with them. They all treat her like their favorite sister.

I’ll miss Morgan, she’s been an important part of my life this year. I feel like I’ll see her again though. We plan to go to Saudi Arabia in the future together.

Some days I just need someone to turn the key in my back and shut me off for a few hours.

This has been one of those days.

Running a million miles an hour, and not in control of anything coming out of my mouth. Surprising and terrifying myself.

But hey, it makes for good stories.

Not sure they’re quite worth the agony, but good stories nonetheless.

Yesterday this intriguing elderly woman gave me her business card. I’m guessing she’s from somewhere in Eastern Europe, but I can never be sure about her. She is an enigma, seeming to be a citizen of the world, not confined to one region or nationality. She floats around the cafe a few times a week, striking friendships with people from all over the world. I particularly always see her at the corner table with my friend H, who is from Pakistan. Sometimes, when I am cleaning up around the cafe I will linger by their table and listen to the intense snippets of conversation being discussed.

Yesterday I asked her how she knew H. I will miss that part of being a barista, that inherent entitlement to pry. People are actually usually flattered when you inquire into the most intimate details of their lives. She told me she’s an ambassador for the Universal Peace Federation, an NGO in partnership with the UN Economic and Social Council. She befriended H because she wanted to learn more about terrorism from a Middle East perspective.

Her name is Barbara. She has such a quiet voice that you have to bend forward to hear her as she speaks. She has tiny little glasses to fit her tiny frame, and her words are a little hesitant with irregular pauses as if she is looking for the just the right words to complete the picture she is trying to paint.  She is the opposite of verbose, and institutes one of the most concise conversational formats I have ever been a part of. She seems to create a peaceful atmosphere of productivity around her. I want to learn that.

I had always thought she was not interested in getting to know me, but it turns out I just had to make the first move. Once I started speaking to her yesterday, she took it from there. She told me all about her life and what she’s aiming to learn.

She says she comes to this city for the international atmosphere, she actually lives in a town to the west in small town America.  Why she lives out there is still a mystery.

H came in later, his face in shadows and a beard growing on his usually clean shaven face. I asked him if he was okay, and he said he’s just having a rough week. I have never seen him so upset before. But he still went and had his hours long discussion with Barbara about the depth of the human being and what that means in current society.

Spider set free outside using coffee mug and yellow legal pad. I started unconsciously calling him baby after about ten minutes. I think it’s safe to say that the leaping wolf spider the size of a nickel that dropped off my ceiling and ran excitedly over to my desk has now been bonded with.

Blood donated. Haven’t donated in a long time, and was a little more terrified than I thought I would be. The nurse missed my vein, and called the other nurses over so that we could all freak out a little bit. This warm nurse took initiative and asked me if she could take it out and put it in again, and I said, of course. I asked if everything was alright now, and she told me, reassuringly, “You’re bleeding now, sister.”

And it was my favorite.

Spoke to Emily back in Leicester. She has a new roommate/wife who is very funny and inappropriate.

Coffee being made now. Going to run a bunch of errands today, and take control of my environment.

What next?

No more baristaing, that’s what.

At the bank today changing my address, and the teller, a tall blonde super Kansas boy is all, “My friend is moving to California for that program as well! His name is Dave!”

I was mildly intrigued, but mostly business about it all and just smiled. I didn’t want to find out the full name of the other person from here, because I want to let the adventure unravel itself. What are the chances- there’s only 200 or so of us, and one of them is another person from my town.

Went downtown tonight and got drinks with Diana, and then Nolan and Emily joined us.

Emily has worked at a Chimp sanctuary in Louisiana for the past few years. She’s moving to LA to be with Nolan.

We talked about chimp behavior, and how it parallels human behavior. Different actions, same idea.

We talked about other things, but never have I spent so long talking about primates in a bar. It was a good two hours or so of Chimpanzees and Bonobos.

FAVORITE.

Emily lived in Indonesia for a year with a host family- and then South America. And is just generally a world traveler and bad ass.

Nolan reminds me of how I would stereotype most of the guys at that bar. Hip, bearded, tight shirt and pants and big chunky black glasses.

Everyone we knew walked it. It was great. Being back home and talking about primates in a basement bar.

xxxxxx

Just told a friend goodbye for the thousandth time.

It’s so funny. Every time we say goodbye, it’s forever. And then I see him later that day again. Or two months later.

But he’s planning on moving to North Africa forever- so probably is the last time, in the US at least.

We’re going to drink peppermint tea in Rabat together someday. I conjured the future out of the air in a cacophonous display of limelight rudimentary magic.

He invited me to coffee this morning, got here and H and L were there. Another regular us, a coffee drinking, Dostoyevsky reading math phd student. And then Keith, my old coworker joined us.

Then N walked in, the one I had just met and hung out with last night- and everyone knew him. And that’s when I realized the beauty and the terror of small towns all over again.

You feel like a celebrity- and boosts your self esteem and helps you achieve great things. But it can also hold you back from great things because you forget that there is a whole world outside- not just the same 200 people you bump into daily.

You forget to stretch your wings if you stay here too long. And if you leave, you can forget to be present where you’re at. And come back to this little town looking for validation from others about your life “out in the big city.”

Do it for you, no one else.

Wherever you are, be there.

Whoever you’re with- enjoy them and let them go.

Last night we went to visit Pop in Mac. We got there after he got off work, and then walked around the downtown. Then we got breakfast for dinner and met his friend at his work. Then we headed to his local bar and got a pitcher of German beer and sat outside in the cool fall air. Later Mom and Pop substantially improved my pool game, and a slightly intoxicated cowboy from Texas came over and befriended Pop.

It was a really nice night, then in the morning we got up for breakfast around 6:45 am and went to a local diner that served cinnamon rolls as big as pies.

New Years with Debolina.

Played Wise or Otherwise with the parents, and then headed to the cafe for a bit of studying.

Ran into Bari, she gave Deb and me a 20 minute life coach lecture on energies and vibes and taking responsibility for your own life. Not being a victim, being an active agent of change in one’s own life for oneself.

Then Sonjay walked in, said he’s planning on doing the same program I am doing right now. He saw us planting all those bulbs online, and thought that was the way to go.

Then Emma walked in, and I realized how much I missed my super feminist Sunday morning cafe barista pal. Going to meet up tonight again. Meeting up with a lot of people, I’m sure.

On the way out, said hello to Polly- my favorite little regular. Every Monday at 5 pm she would come in and get a con leche. So classy.

Saw Bev and her family as well. Love them so much, the sweetest people.

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