We Need People
I am of the opinion that life’s smallest moments are often life’s most profound. It’s in these seemingly simple intonations that the best sort of change occurs.
I recently cried at a wedding.
Lest you be fooled into thinking this is unusual and possibly profound, it is not; I often cry at weddings. Deep expressions of familial love, well-executed personal details and concentrated statements of beauty and commitment overwhelm me, usually to the point of tears.
In the hopes of being honest and transparent, I did cry for all of those reasons at this wedding; many tears were shed. But the brightest moment among a night saturated with light didn’t have to do with the wedding at all. It revolved around a gin and tonic.
After the vows had been spoken, the wedding evolved into a massive celebration, so naturally my friends and I took to the bar. The first to order, I opted for the classic g&t. I’m not saying the friends who ordered after me copied me, but suspiciously enough, they ordered g&t’s too. I’ll let you decide for yourself the real story here.
I stepped back from the bar to make room for the other thirsty attendees. As my friend Alex Tedrow (fondly called Teddy by friends and strangers alike) came to find me, one deciding factor differentiated her drink from mine: a straw.
Now a straw might not normally constitute as a night-altering object, but to an enthusiastic story-teller, dancer and all-around mover and shaker, the presence of a straw contains the ability to save not only your own outfit, but many outfits around you.
Somewhere, there were straws just waiting for me to find them. Now I should tell you right now that when a challenge large or small looks me in the face, it’s not often that I wait around long enough to stare back. This particular instance lasted about a split second, but was enough to lay the foundation for something significant, significant to me at least.
“Do you want a straw? I get you a straw,” Teddy avowed in her charmingly-optimistic tonality, which often forgets auxiliary verbs. And with a smile and bounce in her step, she marched up to the bar to make good on her promise. Her approach, recognition and decision to act all happened more quickly than the internet disseminated the (glorious) news that Gilmore Girls will be given a second life.
Stunned. I was stunned. Her intuition and impetuousness catapulted me (a regular Speedy Gonzalez) into forced stillness. All I could do was stand and wait while she paid heed to my peculiar need.
And without explanation, her return cued my aforementioned tears. And then the semi-successful attempt to hold them back.
If you’re wondering why exactly the arrival of a small piece of plastic evoked tears, you would not be alone. Even upon reflection, I don’t have the clearest answer for myself. What I do know is that I had spent an epoch as the energizer bunny, without realizing just how desperate I was for an interruption.
They will tell you that post-grad life (and moving to a new city in particular) is filled with discouraging moments. While I have had the occasional spilled milk (or spilled rice) moments, I haven’t felt discouraged in any sort of earth-shattering, public meltdown sort of way. Chin up, eyes alert, I’ve used copious amounts of energy on survival, which has taken the form of pursuing a constant state of adventure. I haven’t allowed myself to reflect, or to need.
But this wasn’t always a struggle. Friends with firmer foundations, friends in Auburn, Austin, Atlanta, Birmingham, Chicago, Houston and St. Louis can certainly attest to my neediness. And yet somewhere along the way I’ve subconsciously encouraged my recent friendships to act as supplements rather than sustenance. That’s not to say these friends haven’t seen my flaws - they surely have (bless). But I haven’t actively humbled myself in these friendships. I’ve believed my own strange standard that to make it in this big old city, I can’t let them see me cry (so to speak).
But like it or not, we need people. We need them in a messy, mixture of mascara and snot running down your face, way. Of this, I am sure. And though it took a small yet graceful (friend and) gesture for me to remember, I’m ready to be a human again, and not something powered by a battery.
[Photo by Juliette Kibodeaux.]