Thursday, September 6, 2007
She's Leaving Home
The day after Labor Day. The day I leave for Poland.
I woke up before my 8am alarm, unable to stay in bed a moment longer and went to run errands. I dropped my clothes at the laundrymat and headed next door to my favorite neighborhood cafe for a breakfast muffin and cappucino.
The two fresh, blonde women who worked behind the counter spoke English to me, but to the man in grey track pants standing next to me, they spoke Polish. The man was apologizing because he didn't have enough cash for his meal and he had somewhere he needed to go. The girls, who obviously knew him, shooed away his credit card and gave him his coffee for free. I watched this interaction, amused and secretly thrilled that I could understand almost everything they were saying--and knowing that someday soon, like in a matter of days (okay, maybe weeks), I would be able to understand more clearly and perhaps have conversations like these myself.
I nursed my hot coffee at one of the small round tabłes, and a man walked in wearing a suit, newspaper tucked under his arm. It was obvious he was heading to work, probably stopping in for his regular cup of coffee. It was the first day of school in New York City, and I watched a mother and her son--oversized backpack siting at the foot at the table--sharing croissants, hot chocolate and conversation before moving on with their days.
When I used to walk to work (I gotta say, it feels pretty nice to say used to), I would pass a Starbucks, which like every Starbucks in New York City, was always bustling with people. While I'd be rushing to work, mentally preparing myself for the day that loomed ahead, I'd always see people in there who obviously had a different agenda. These people would be perched on chairs looking onto the sidewalk, some with noses buried in The New York Times, some of them talking leisurely to friends or sipping their drinks as if they had nowhere to go, no work to do, no care in the world.
Who were these people, I'd wonder, and how can I be one of them?
Sitting there in the cafe today, I realized with great delight that I am now one of those people.
Today I did laundry. I had breakfast at the cafe. I went grocery shopping to stock up the fridge for Dan. I checked my email and watched half an episode of The Girls Next Door. Dan picked me up at the apartment and we took a cab together to JFK airport, my hand over his the entire ride. We kissed goodbye. When he waved to me from a distance, my eyes welled up with tears. I waited in long lines and wondered if I packed too much. I ate McDonald's and threw half of it away in the garbage. I purchased an overpriced banana, some trashy magayines and boarded my Aer Lingus flight.
Besides the fact that I was going to Poland, there was really nothing special about today. But I can't remember the last time I have ever felt absolutely, wonderfully happy. While I sat there in the cafe today, I thought to myself- Please Yvonne, never live your life in a half-assed way again. This feels too good.
Today was one of the best days of my life.
I'm leaving on a jet plane.
This banana was good, but not $1.07 good.