My brother called and wished me a happy birthday—which is no small miracle in an of itself—reminding me that I was a mere 7 years away from 50. This year is starting out with a bang, though most of the shrapnel is felt on the inside. My therapist tells me it is the very best thing for me.
They say Cancerians are reflective when it comes around to marking things like a birthday, and I’ve learned something important about myself that I wanted to capture and not forget. Forgive me if this is all too much navel gazing and me me me shit.
I’ve learned about myself that I live by three main principles: I find my joy in helping others, crave intimacy and I need to be known/visible. Perhaps this is a no brainer for all you enneagram 2s out there but for me, I guess I have just always taken these things for granted. I tend to hold on to people so I always have these things surrounding me. However, ushering in this new year, I also have a new job, with new people. I’m only a week and a half in. (read: no one, for all intents and purposes, knows me yet). It is my birthday and I’m new so of course, I am working. No big deal, I generally don’t care much about my birthday, and I’ve celebrated with my lady friends over brunch. I get ready to go into a busy night work.
I am no stranger to busy nights in the restaurant business (have you been to Lola?). But in a new place, with new people, with no one that I know walking in for dinner or working with me, suddenly the pity party descends. I manage to squeek out to the chef “hey, you know what? It’s my birthday” to which he responds, face all lit up like the very last candle at Easter Vigil at midnight, “Really?! Well happy birthday! You can have anything you want for dinner, on me.” … hold… and scene. He turns, wipes another plate and takes a breath about to holler for a runner. The moment is here and gone in a flash.
I think to myself, “good lord Rachel, get a fucking grip.” But I can’t. I’ve lost myself, gotten all nostalgic and sappy, and I long for my people—Lola people. Tears well, leave the line and the floor, and I think “What would tonight be like if I were there? I wish so-and-so were here, they’d have given me a hug.” Hug. Crap, run up the stairs, the tears are now bursting, and I just want someone, anyone really, to hold me and let me cry into them.
I sit myself down in a corner and have a cry. I call a friend. She talks me out of my tree, asks if I can ask someone for what I need. I thank her, hang up, and I hug my own damn self, because I can. I dust myself off and think of how very lucky I am.
When I go back to the floor, my eyes show the red remnant of what had just happened. “Are you ok?” comes from a kind soft face. I let it all blurt out. It’s my birthday, and I miss my people, and its hard being new and not knowing anything and not being known and ….. shit, I am sorry I am a mess, and I am not normally like this, and it’s ok and …. they reach out and hug me. Like really hug me.
So when you ask me how I am, and if I like my new job, know that there is no one simple and easy answer. I am forty-fucking-three. I am an older dog learning new tricks. I am learning how to be vulnerable and open, and how to love myself exactly where I am, in my mess and discomfort. I am learning how ask for what I need, and learning how to help new people. And these people, they are GOOD people. So it IS good, but it is also hard.
And with a single candle and a gaggle of smiles beaming at me, these new people sang across a room with a beautiful chocolate panna cotta. They saw me, and said welcome, you are one of us now.