“What time are you getting to Rapha?”
I texted my co-worker while I was sitting in my car around the corner from Rapha. It was 5:45 p.m., just 15 minutes before our RCC Christmas party started.
I knew 80% of the guest list. I know what they do for a living, I know their families and the last place they vacationed. I know all their drink orders… but still didn’t want to walk in alone, high school dance-style.
I gripped the steering wheel and the heat blew against my freshly manicured fingernails. I closed my eyes, tipped my head back against the headrest. I could’ve fallen asleep and kinda surprised I didn’t. I’d finished my 8.5 hour shift at Rapha just two hours earlier. I had a headache and could feel the beginnings of a sore throat forming as I massaged my head and neck.
I peeked at the clock: 5:51 p.m.
“My cookies are still in the oven. They’re taking forever! But I’ll be there before 7 p.m.,” my friend texted back with a slew of emojis tacked on the end. In that moment I remembered I forgot to bake something for the party. Too late. Oh well.
“Ok, see you there!”
I thought of something my mom always says in difficult situations: “put your big girl pants on!” Meaning, suck it up and handle it!
Social-heavy situations aren’t my favorite after very long and mentally draining social work shifts. But I snapped out of it because I love this place and these people, the FOMO was setting in and, damnit, I had just spent $$$ on a manicure so those fresh-ass nails and I were going to that party.
My big girl pants just happened to be the same coffee ground-stained pants I had worn all day in the cafe, but they were buttoned and ready. I walked in to see the clubhouse already filled with people. Coats hung from the bike racks, cookie and cheese plates sat on display tables, an impressive DIY ramen bar was set up in the back (courtesy of Lentine) and a slideshow of photos from the past year flicked through on each big screen TV. Before I knew it, I was mingling. I assembled my ramen bowl, grabbed a drink, found some friends, and had fun in the photo booth rigged up in a dressing room.
“Lindsay! There you are!” Meredith, our RCC Coordinator and retired-but-not-retired pro cyclist shouted at me when a photo of me SHREDDING up a cyclocross course popped up on the screen.
That was just one YES I said to this year working at Rapha, making new friends, and trying a new sport at 29 years old. As all my yesses flicked by on screen, I couldn’t believe I’d almost said no to this party. Yes, it was our holiday party. Yes, we were kinda using it as an excuse to eat and drink and document it with Polaroid photos…but to me it felt like a turning point in life. I had stories to tell, memories to take up space in my heart, and friends to reminisce with.
“That was such a brutal course! So much fun!” I shouted back.
It happened again when the photos from our epic Old Fall River Road ride popped up. That was one for the books.
When I finally made it back to my car, my stomach full of noodles and homemade cookies, I felt the weight of my eyelids each time I blinked. Exhausted, but happy for it—for living a full life again.