Everything will be ok

I was sitting at the outside patio of HT Grill in S Redondo Beach with some friends drinking my decaf coffee. The waitress was getting ready to leave for the evening as it was late, but even through her mask covering her nose and mouth and the plastic shield partially covering her eyes she smiled and I could feel it. My friends and I were trying not to talk politics as RBG had just passed away, but the conversation kept drifting back to that as we tried to grasp what the future held for us. The bottomline is we had no resolution, and talking about it just brought up uncomfortable emotions.

One of the friends that was there that night I had invited out with us to see if there was chemistry between us. I figured if he met my friends and I and there was no chemistry then we just could part ways with no hard feelings. But as the evening wore on it seemed that we were just focussed on each other. People were leaving the restaurant but we didn’t notice as we learned about each other and as I watched his eyes I started to wonder if we could be more than friends.

As we were getting ready to leave the restaurant, he scooted his chair closer, put his arm across my shoulders, pulled me closer and kissed me. I looked at him after and said, ‘Nice kiss.’ And then we both felt the ground move under our chairs. It was subtle but didn’t stop and then the waiter came out of the glass door of the restaurant and proclaimed, ‘We are having an earthquake!’

He urged us to come over and watch the lights swinging in the restaurant, and another waiter already googled it and said, ‘4.8’. We had an earthquake, the very ground beneath our feet was moving and unstable. I tried to react but I didn’t have enough shock left in me to be surprised. Was I scared? No. The thing that stuck with me was the timing of it. We had been talking about the state of our country on and off all night, but it was after the kiss that the earth reacted. It made me contemplate what really is important.

These last few weeks between the never ending lockdown and the fires in Oregon I have found myself feeling anxious. How can so many traumatic things happen one after the other? My brain is working overtime trying to make sense of the current events, so that I can put them in their place, and let them go. But thinking about the black cloud of smoke covering most of Oregon, and my friends not being able to go outside and breathe the air has been the hardest thing for me to reconcile. I can’t wrap my brain around it, and every time I think about it, tears come to my eyes.

My Ex husband and I moved to Portland when my daughter was a few months old in order to have a simpler life than what we had in San Francisco. We had no jobs and a little savings. We moved on pure faith. And Oregon with its clear blue skies, its meandering majestic rivers, and its sweeping mountain ranges enveloped us and made us fall in love with it. It was the perfect place to bring up our daughter.

But after our daughter moved to Seattle and out on her own, I said goodbye to Oregon and left my marriage. I was ready for something different, and I wanted to come home to California. My friends in Oregon wished me well. They were excited for me and encouraged me on my new journey. I have a new life here, but I never thought that my old life would literally go up in smoke. I took it for granted that I could go back and visit Oregon and everything would be the same. As I texted all my friends in Oregon during the recent fires I realized how devastated I would be if something happened to them. They have been constantly on my mind this last week. And I realize that I took for granted that they would always be there.

I went out Friday night in hopes of relaxing my mind and calming my anxiousness. It is hard in these days of Covid to get the support I really crave because we are supposed to stay away from other people. But I do need people, and not just talking on the phone and texting. I need to look in their eyes, see the emotion of their face, touch them and feel them smile. It is these things that lower my heart rate and calm me. The contact with other people makes me not feel so alone, and makes me realize we are all not so different no matter what we believe in politically or otherwise. We are all humans in need of connection.

So, when the earthquake happened right after my kiss I took it as a good sign. It was a sign that even the very ground under my feet is not completely reliable. So, I need to stop thinking that I can reason away anything that is happening right now. I will never find ‘a place’ for the anxiety I am feeling through logic, and racking my brain. Instead the answer lies in connection with others, and appreciating them. The answer lies in empathy, kindness, and love. Our country is going through growing pains, and just like a teenager that is acting out the worst thing a parent can do is be angry at them. The answer lies in calmness and understanding, and knowing that everything will eventually be ok.

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