To state the obvious, much has been going wrong lately. Much has been going right, too, of course, but still. All the personal grief and loss, all the terror and despair in the news created a dark cloud that was hard to see through. North California wildfires filled the air with smoke, making breathing dubious. My body was going into the deep fall part of the cycle. It was not going to be a good week.
Karen and I made plans to have dinner together. We both rushed home, diligently, after our separate long days. I was almost done making a simple meal when she arrived. Karen was gracious and enthusiastic about all of it.
We talked about recent events and experiences. About travels, yoga, slowing down, grief, being open to feelings, psychic wounds of generations past, ours to heal. We jumped topics, interrupted thoughts for drinks, chocolate, and dishes. As people do at dinner, at home, after a long day. Normally. They do, don’t they?
I spent most of the day publicly disagreeing with my boss and failing. It was not productive. It was exhausting to deal with all that and all the self doubt: am I crazy to persist? I went to toastmasters in the evening. That was fine, but also work. It was nice to be unfocused and unguarded at home after that. It was pleasant to have company for dinner.
The next morning, I woke up, sneaked out quietly so as not to disturb Karen’s sleep much, and went to Arizmendi for breakfast.
With my coffee and bread, I sat at the bar table by the window and watched the street dawn. A young woman came in and met a young man who earlier was looking around. Justin tied his black dog to the parklet outside and walked in. Justin chose his baked goods, got in line, noticed me, smiled, and waved hello. I waved back. Justin’s dog outside shuffled, stretched slowly, and lay down onto its belly. Justin sat by me at the bar table. “Hey, I run into you all the time,” he said. “Do you live nearby? Me too. I guess that’s why.” We chatted about work commute and yoga. We finished our breakfast and went about our business. Just two folks who have a bit in common. Like going to yoga all the time and being coherent at 7 AM. Just a simple chat. Something normal that happens every day. Except when it doesn’t.
Diana was on the bus to work in the morning. We hadn’t been on the same bus since before she broke her foot in early June. So much happened since then. Even though I haven’t told her anything serious, it was nice to ride with her again. I missed that.
At work, the boss took her position another step further away from compromises and got more folks to agree. I put my arguments against that in writing one last time. Three short points, one sentence. Then I went to the boss and attempted to explain the most important point in person, got nowhere, and accepted the decision. Three hours later, after a long meeting with her boss, she forwarded an e-mail straight from him: revert everything to what I first wrote, word for word, no compromises.
It wasn’t winning an argument as such that felt good, but getting my identity back. Not crazy. The world makes sense some time. It can be normal. It was good for that all to be over. I was happy to work a bit late, catch up, do what I enjoy and, for a change, not doubt my actions.
When I walked out of the office building in the evening, the air smelled like trees and rain. Not like smoke as it had smelled for over days. Like trees. Normal.