It was all so cliche… I had just stopped in at my neighborhood coffee shop for my post-run treat (don’t judge, it happens!) and there he was. He was so handsome with his blue eyes and dark wavy hair, and that smile… and after a quick and cautionary look around, I realized that smile was for me. ME?!? While I was waiting for my drink to be made we kept exchanging glances and smiles, something was happening here but it’s been so long since something like this has happened I wasn’t sure what it was and I certainly did not know what to do next. While my mind was racing it came to a stop on what seemed like the best course of action for the situation… get my coffee and leave, go get some Thai food and go home. So that’s exactly what I did. The barista called my name, I grabbed my Cortado, exchanged one last awkward smile and left feeling an odd mixture of excitement, confusion and regret. On my way to the place I get my take-out from I kept thinking about what just happened. I got to thinking about how the course of our lives can change in an instant based on the choices we make. I was walking along telling myself that I should just be happy that someone “saw” me, someone noticed me and smiled… and that now it was time for me to get some food and go home to watch Netflix content with the knowledge that perhaps maybe I’m not entirely invisible. But then something happened, something inside me wasn’t content with that. Something inside me felt that wasn’t enough. Something inside me decided that I needed to take a chance and see what could happen. But first I had to go order my food while I decided what to do next. While I was waiting for my Red Curry I wrote down my name and number on a piece of paper I had ripped off of one of the takeout menus. I was determined that I would go back to the coffee shop (just as soon as my order was ready of course) and go in and make us both slightly uncomfortable and give him my number.
While I was standing on the corner waiting for the light to change so that I could cross the street, I saw him leaving. Now I realized that I was going to have to chase him down on the sidewalk to talk to him. I couldn’t decide if this just elevated the awkwardness of the situation or not. (I was pretty sure it did) My heart was racing as I picked up my pace in order to catch up with him. As I was getting closer, he turned and was entering the courtyard of his building. I knew right then that I had to take action or let the moment escape and wonder what could have happened if I had been braver.
“Hi..excuse me… that was you just a bit ago at the coffee shop right??”
“Yes, it was.” He said through that amazing smile of his
“Yeah, so, okay… well…umm, I NEVER do this but… oh shit, this is my number and if you would ever want to hang out or whatever or, oh… oh god… OH GOD, you are wearing a ring, you’re married… I’m so sorry!”
“You’re wearing a ring too though…”
“Yes, but on the wrong hand and I bought them for me, so, I’m like married to myself I guess? Oh god… I’m sorry for making your evening get all weird and stuff…”
“It’s okay… you’re a handsome guy and I WAS smiling at you. And I’m very flattered you gave me your number Steve.”
So, here’s the deal… If you’ve been reading this waiting for the fairy tale ending of life happily ever after with the prince charming from the coffee shop, you might as well go ahead and stop reading now. I’m still a proud member of #TeamCats! I’m still just as single and crazy as before. I still curl up at night with Dexter and Thai food.
But as I continued my walk home that night, I realized something… in that moment, I was brave. And not only was I brave… I was still alive. It may not seem like that big of a deal for a lot of people… but for ME it was a big deal. I’m basically the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz. I got to walk home that night without wondering what could have happened if I had stepped into my life and took a chance. Turns out I basically just made a stranger feel a little uncomfortable… but I took a chance and was brave and vulnerable. And while that may not be a big deal for some people… it’s where “I” needed to start from. It was what needed to happen for me to begin to take a serious look at some other areas in my life and become brave and vulnerable there as well.
I feel like we spend a lot of time talking about “living life without regrets” and “life is too short to be unhappy” and things like that… but what are we doing after we SAY those things? Are we actively participating in creating change in our lives that take us closer to where we want to be or what we want to be doing? Or are we talking the talk and instead of walking the walk… are we anesthetizing ourselves with food, or booze or marathon sessions of Orange Is The New Black? Our lives are made up of little choices… and it’s how we maneuver those little choices that end up dictating our character and our courses. And it’s those little choices that that give us practice listening to ourselves, and to our instincts and give us the courage when faced with bigger choices to trust ourselves and know that being brave is being vulnerable… and that being brave and vulnerable is being alive.