It is an occasion when a diner will ask his or her server anything about herself. Rarely, do they open a door and whistle, beckoning my humanity to come out. Here humanity, here boy. It is rarely fun: bearing the “can I get’s?” and the “give me’s,” but then, as if out of some discreet pocket of air, I’ll receive a “What do you do?” and the heavens split right down the middle and light befalls us—an aura covering table 23. Somehow, someone knew to ask what I do or what I want, what my passions and dreams may happen to be. It is so brilliant that it almost seems to cancel out the following interaction that occurred at table 44 about two and a half weeks ago.
Father and daughter talk amongst themselves…
Father: “Should we ask, I don’t know.”
Lowly server (me): “Everything alright over here. Are you all finished?”
Father: “Yes. May we ask you a question.”
NB: This is all occurring after the gentleman told me that I should inform management that we have to do something about the room temperature maple syrup that causes the piping hot French toast to lower in temperature when it is poured atop the texas toast-y delicacy.
Father: Do you have another job?
Me: I freelance write, which is my passion, but this is the only job I make money doing. Why?
Father: Because we were just talking amongst ourselves and wondering how you could possibly make enough money as a waitress to live in a city like Washington, DC.
So these things sometimes happen. I almost rather they are outright into heir debasement of me rather than closeted, discreet, huffy breathed, and blaming me for an undercooked something or other. That guy tipped me about 40%. It was the worst I’d ever felt about an overtly extravagant tip. So back to “Here humanity, here boy.” There is something very important that comes forth from being thrown into a life state that allows for expression, only if it is stifled by the impetuous wants and needs of others. And believe it or not, regardless of how one may read my general tone, that something important is not boundless heaps of cynicism. No, it is an achy urge to devote one’s time and efforts to extracting and encouraging the revealing of others’ humanity. I want to name every face, or better yet, allow every face to name itself to me.
Odd as it is that the very people who cause me grief each day have helped me to want to aid and assist others in feeling whole, it’s a backwards recipe that certainly works for me. It was in feeling suffocated that my truest loves in life arose to the front of my mind, battling off ideas and goals that had once held precedence because perhaps they looked better or would help me to move on more swiftly to a better post graduate degree program. It’s not that bad—the middle—the mental or even physical place in which everything is a maybe, every move is impermanent, and every waking hour comes with something unexpected, unwanted, or unplanned. I like the middle, at least more than I thought I would. Yes, it is in the middle that I have regular panic attacks over rent payments, bemoan my erratic work schedule, and fight with my mother on the phone, but it also here in the middle that I can take a long walk in trail of sunlight I’d otherwise not be able to bask in until it was well faded, within a clump of bustling, uniformed workers; it’s here that I can submit a poem to a journal, fingers crossed, wondering and hoping that maybe this is the middle’s end, at least before the next middle, the next time I decide to thin before I do, to consider, to stop somewhere between this and that—whatever this is, whatever that is, I don’t really know, not now.