Archive | November, 2007

My Trip to the Post Office

8 Nov


Club Med Sonora Bay

WRITEOUS CHICKS Newsletter – November 2007

 On Saturday afternoon, I sat down to pay a stack of November bills when I saw that my Con Ed bill was due on Monday, November 5th, which was in two days.  I thought that my Con Ed bill was always due on the 8th of the month, so this caught me by surprise, and I realized I had to get that sucker in the mail THAT DAY to even stand the slimmest of slim chances of it arriving on time.  I wasn’t sure what time the post office closed on Saturdays so I gave it a shot and headed to the closest post office 2 blocks away with my Con Ed bill in hand.  I had also mapped out the rest of my afternoon and all the errands I would do and in what order after I slid the bill into the mail slot. 

When I arrived at the post office is was 2:45, and the sign said it closed at 2:30.  There is another post office about 10 blocks away but this totally upset my map and threw off my whole afternoon of errand efficiency.  I read The Secret and I know all about creating your reality with your thoughts, and having a positive attitude of gratitude.  So I faked a mental monologue that went like this:  “Isn’t this GREAT?  It’s a gorgeous, sunny, crisp, cool fall day and I am just taking a leisurely stroll in my beautiful neighborhood.  Thank God the post office was closed, because it has given me this wonderful opportunity to slow down, give up my agenda, and just enjoy the day!  On my nice, long, leisurely walk, 10 blocks out of my way!”   

But my subconscious wasn’t buying it, and I’ll give you a glimpse into my REAL, deep down inner monologue, which went like this:  ” *@$^&%!!!!  @*^%*^%*^%*@!!!!!  I am going to f-ing walk 10 f-ing blocks out of my F-ING WAY, and when I get there, I am SURE that that motherf-ing post office is ALSO going to be closed, and it will be a complete waste of my time, I will have thrown my whole day off, I won’t be able to get any of my errands done, and my Con Ed bill won’t even get there on time so I will get a late fee tacked on on top of everything!!!!”

So you can imagine my surprise when I got to the second post office, and it was open, and everything was just…easy.  I plunked the bill in the mail, it would likely arrive at Con Ed on Monday, and I went on my merry way to Target.  Piece of cake. 

But this really alerted me to how I have come to anticipate struggle and expect disappointment.  In something so small and insignificant as a trip to the post office.  In day-to-day things like trying to catch (and missing) a subway, ordering meatloaf from my favorite neighborhood cafe on a cold rainy night only to learn that they just ran out, needing to print something out right now when the printer jams.  But also, I have grown to expect disappointment in the bigger things, from my relationships to my finances to my career to my life purpose.  I have grown to believe that I won’t get what I want and need when I want and need it, so why even bother?  

During spring break of my senior year in high school, my aunt and uncle took me, my sister, and my cousins to Club Med in Sonora Bay.  I had an amazing week dancing poolside (the Club Med Sun Dance!), water skiing, spending my nights at the discotheque grooving to “Informer” by Snow, and walking barefoot on the beach with super-cute guys, splashing in the waves (there was “Gabe the Babe” who was a real-live surfer from California, and another cutie from Chicago.  I can’t remember his name anymore which is strange because I loved him for a week in 1993).  I even performed in the show that the guests put on at the end of the week, in which I got to wear a sexy costume and strut my stuff onstage.  With a feather boa. 

I came back home burnt to a crisp as a result of a last ditch attempt to deepen my tan that involved Hawaiian Tropic, high noon, and a latitude close to the Equator, and also, radiating confidence.  I had made so many new friends instantly on this trip and it soothed my nerves about starting college in the fall.  I now knew I could make friends wherever I went and take risks and try new things and it would all be just…easy. 

I was in the National Honor Society at the time, and a week or two after returning from my trip it was my turn to put in my NHS tutoring hours at the high school library, where other students could stop by for homework help.  Still radiant, I was talking a million miles an hour to the NHS Faculty Advisor about my trip, and how it had opened my mind to all these new possibilities.  The university I was going to attend offered a semester abroad program in Aix-en-Provence, so I had decided that I wanted to major in French, study in Aix, and then take a year or two after college to work at different Club Meds around the world.  I thought it would be fun, and hey, why not?  I had no doubt that I could, and would, do this. 

Then the faculty advisor said, “That’s not going to happen.  Things never happen like you plan.”  But I was adamant and defended my plan with the full-out unrestrained passion of an optimistic 17-year-old. My plan totally never happened.  Nothing even close to it happened (I took one French class in my first semester of freshman year, and attended one poetry reading at the International House, and then ditched the idea).  Other stuff happened, which was fine stuff, but the point is, somewhere along the way, I stopped believing that it could happen.  Or that something equally fabulous and magnificent could happen.  I started internalizing the rejection and disappointment that the world threw my way, dropped a hope here, a dream there, and resigned myself to living a life that is not nearly as spectacular as the one I had once so easily imagined for myself.  And now I steel myself against disappointment daily and brace myself for struggle – the post office being closed when I need it to be open, the subway pulling out of the station when I need it to be pulling in, the relationship not working out, my writing being rejected, the list goes on… 

But this isn’t how I want to live my life.  And the unexpected surprise of the post office being open when I needed it to be, of things going smoothly, going my way, gave me a huge jolt. 

When I was in high school and college, I used to think that things would go my way just because I wanted them to, I was smart, I worked hard, and I deserved them.  That isn’t the way my thinking defaults anymore.  It’s easy to lose hold of this belief in ourselves as we get older and move through a world that is not always (and sometimes it can feel like never) accommodating to us and our desires.  So I write this story to hopefully jolt you, even if just for a moment, out of any conditioned thinking you may hold, an auto-pilot belief that whispers things will be difficult, and inconvenient, and disappointing, and won’t go your way. 

Try to remember a time in your life when you believed you could have it all, no matter how fanciful or outrageous, simply because you wanted it.  Remember a time in your life where you believed you deserved it.  And hold onto that thought, even when day-to-day disappointments peck at it and try to chip it away.  Write it down.  Write your story about a time you believed in yourself.  And remember remember remember.  Even when the subway door slams in your face and your computer crashes and the printer jams and you can’t find a decent slice of meatloaf to save your life and things are just not going your way.  And keep holding on.  No matter what.  ‘Cause maybe your present will loop back and touch your past at that very place, and you will believe in yourself, unconditionally, once again.  

Lots of love!

Jen xoxo 

Copyright © 2007 by Jennifer Garam