Four stories up on his rooftop deck, we were hunched over a folding table, elbows deep in pulverized potatoes and onions making latkes for his annual holiday party when he said what still gives me chills a week later…
“So, yeah. This is kind of a big deal. You being here.”
Three hours and 120 latkes later, I would meet all his closest friends. Some he grew up with. And most he’d made along the way of adulthood.
A big deal. Because friends, I’ve heard and you’ve probably heard, are the family you choose. Friends know more than parents and sisters and cousins and brothers and aunts and uncles. They’re the ones you fall asleep on at a country concert (true story). Friends are the people who come over just to lay on the floor and eat popcorn when you’ve had a hard day.
A big deal. Because he’s picky and he still picked me to meet his chosen family.
I didn’t know what to say so I smiled and kept mashing and mixing and watching the sun slowly dip below Denver’s skyline.
Seven turned into 7:30 and then 8p.m. and friends slowly trickled in through the front door arms full of varying alcoholic beverages.
And it was a mixed bag: teachers, a web developer, a chiropractor, a couple grad students, an investigative journalist, a beer brew master, two nine-to-fivers…
…and suddenly I felt totally out of place. Inadequate. Ashamed? Was that the emotion?
My first time meeting the friends was cloaked in a seasonal celebration filled with drinking, dreidel, and barking music requests at Alexa. He’s Jewish if you couldn’t already tell from the latke situation. And I felt embarrassed every time the what-do-you-do question came up.
I’m Lindsay…the barista?
I’m Lindsay…the former copywriter?
People my age should have their shit together, ya know? And I don’t these days. At least that’s how I felt every time I caught a glimpse of my cracked and blistered hands, eaten raw by hours of washing dishes in harsh chemicals and burning my fingertips pulling espresso and steaming milk.
“Well, I’m working at Rapha right now, but before I moved out here I was a writer at an ad agency for five years. You know, TV, radio, social media…”
I buried my Colorado life with excuses. I felt embarrassed by the job I love so much and sort of proud of the job I left—the one that matched my 401k contributions, offered competitive insurance plans, and gave me endless and valuable experience…but also one that was in a city that made me feel…less me. I felt pressure to impress these new friends because society tells us what is and is not acceptable at certain points in our lives, and I bought into that.
I think I did ok, ya know, meeting the friends. I was “Linds” by the end of the night and already planning weekend bike rides in the new year.
But those same teachers and web developers and desk-jobbers have Monday mornings to get back to. Emails to send. Kids’ lives to change. Backend code to manage.
I have beans to grind, bread to slice, tables to polish. Hands to lotion.
If I’m providing for myself, does it matter?
If I’m happier than I’ve been in over a year, does it matter?
If my yeses outweigh my noes, does it matter?
If this guy wants me to meet his friends family…and then his real family, does it matter?
Lindsay the barista isn’t forever, I suppose. But it’s for now as I figure out my place in Colorado, and it’s fun as hell.
And since it has taken so many nights of bawling in a heap on my bedroom floor, that’s not something to be ashamed of is it? Joy?
A freezing cold, blissfully amazing 6-miler. #BLEST
That was a lot, so thanks for listening. If you’re ever in Boulder, I’d love to make you a cup of coffee.
Push on, PUSH ANIMALS >>>