Around the Bonfire is coming to you on a Monday this week, and I couldn’t be more excited to share today’s guest poster with you.
I had the delight to meet Angela from Tread Softly at Blissdom this year. Her writing is so staggeringly beautiful, so delicate and introspective, that I expected her to be quiet and withdrawn. But in fact, she’s warm, bubbling over with personality and quick-witted. She’s got it all.
When I read this post – about taking control of our lives instead of letting life happen to us – my only real response to her was: “Oh, how I wish I could write like you.”
The night after St. Patrick’s Day in a college town means empty streets and bars that don’t bother to dim the lights. I can’t remember why I decided to venture out with two of my friends. I’m sure I didn’t bother to worry too much about what I wore, and I don’t remember ordering a drink from the haggard bartender just biding time until closing.
An unremarkable evening, except it was the night I picked up my husband.
He wasn’t a stranger leaning against the stained and sticky bar; our pasts were twisted together, from our shared hometown to a few months of dating before sophomore year of college. Yet we veered apart. A campus of over 40,000 students lets you tango away from your past, at least until you encounter it in an eerily quiet bar on a night your head hurts too much to turn away from unintentional eye contact.
I could feel the gossamer veil of almost-awkwardness hanging between us, but I approached him anyway.
The steps to the exit loomed steeply just a few feet away, steps I’d climbed countless times. But neither of us moved towards our only escape route, perhaps because he wasn’t familiar with it; he had never been to the bar frequented by the Greek community. Asking him to grab dinner sometime, taking his number, and calling him a few days later didn’t seem particularly fated, though we haven’t been apart since our paths crossed that night.
This summer, after a long day at the beach, we laughed about the running joke of how I picked him up at a bar until one of our friends challenged my motivation that night, claiming I must have been thinking about getting back together during the years we lived separate lives.
Truthfully, I remember being tired … not the tired born from the green beer still seeping through my pores or the hour that should have found me cradled in my bed. I was tired of searching through a sea of purposely stained white hats for someone whose eyes didn’t glaze over when I laughed too much about nothing; I was tired of the wrong guys who didn’t call and tired of answering when they did.
That night, the only night I ever asked for a guy’s phone number, was about tentatively sitting on the other side of the table – the side where I could be in control instead of waiting for someone else to write the next line in my future.
Our friend is unconvinced.
His doubt stings, not because I care so much about something that happened over ten years ago, but because I wonder if it seems so out-of-character for me to wrench my life in the direction I’d like it to go. My stomach twists in protest; I think about the last several years, the parenting research and school visits and scheduling meals and play dates, juggling dinner clean-up and bath time and bedtime by myself on nights my husband worked late.
Maybe I’ve been so busy worrying about the direction of my kids’ lives and my husband’s life that I’ve let my own dreams slide a little. Even identifying them and writing about them won’t push me closer to my goals. I don’t want them to drift anymore; it’s time to walk back around to the other side of the table and make something happen.