taken aback but certainly flattered, i replied by saying, "i know things... i'm just one of those people that knows things."
whether or not this is true, i've always prided myself on being able to read people in a unique way. james and i had also reached a new level of friendship recently, over a few particularly fun shifts in addition to some dating advice and the graceful ease with which i obtained a certain girls name he had his eye on. they smoked cigarettes together on his break, and he was happy. he had fed my ego, so i was happy too. and we were bonding.
later in the shift i caught him standing close to me with far away eyes and an unaware smile.
"where's your head? it's not here. what are you thinking about?" i asked.
"what? no, i'm here..." and five minutes later i struck gold. he opened up:
while tidying up the espresso bar, he turned to look at me and said,
"when i was 19, my cousin and i went camping at the bend. you know the bend, right? well it was nice outside and we decided we would barbeque, and we actually climbed up a hill in order to get to where we'd eat. at the time, i was wearing shorts, sandals, and a short sleeve shirt, and the hill was a real mess. i mean, covered in brush, weeds, and thorns. but i was like, 'you know what, i'm going to follow my cousin.' and the whole way up the hill i noticed that when i was looking at where i was going, there was always enough room for a foot or a hand. there was always a clear path. it was only when i wasn't looking that i would get torn up. and when we got to the top, and i looked down on the complete tangled mess that was the hill, it was the most beautiful sight i had ever seen. it was amazing."
he paused, then said, "there's always a way. when you asked me what i was thinking about earlier, that was it. i've been thinking about that story all morning."
all i could say was, "i'm really glad you told me."
we all have our hills with pathways that hide only when you're not looking for them. maybe the pretty girl that likes his cappuccinos and shares her smokes with him put that story into his mind... or something else. who knows. more often than not, i seem to pick the easier ground to BBQ on. why fight an uphill battle with a hill when i can stay on the soft, even land? because the view is up there: after the challenge, above the brush; waiting, with the prizes of perspective and fulfillment. sometimes you just gotta climb, if only by one small foothold at a time. the only dangerous force holding you back is yourself.
here's to letting go.