'Okay, I've got 25 minutes to make my way through Home Depot, pay, and get to the coffee shop.' No problem, right? All I need is a few light bulbs, something to remove the Barbie sticker from the passenger door of the car (grrr!), and some bird seed. 'Do not veer off course - do not make your way through the aisles that showcase the gleaming new kitchen faucets. There is nothing to be gained by picking up flats of showy annuals that will only wilt in the car while you're having coffee. Forget the new throw rugs. Just light bulbs, birdseed and the cleaner.'
Made it through with a few minor path adjustments. I love to walk down by the tractors and sit in the vinyl seat of a shiny new green and gold John Deere lawn mower. Something about that makes me feel strong and powerful. Hmm, it's a little like an aphrodesiac. Is that wrong?
'Okay, shake it off. Head for the checkout counter and pay. Stephanie's going to be waiting for you at the cafe. Move it, girl!'
The pleasant smile of the orange-aproned woman completes my sunny disposition. She is happy to be here today, among the scruffy construction guys and elderly ladies picking up bags of potting soil too heavy for their bingo arms. I love this place, too. So many possibilities. At least until I open my wallet to pay and realize I forgot to put my debit and credit cards back in. I have no money. All of a sudden I feel stupid. I have no money. No way to pay for these things I've chosen this morning. And I have no time to fix it because I'm due somewhere else right now.
I apologize, awkward as a 10-year old boy at a school dance. I have screwed up and I'm so embarrassed. I put aside the cart, grateful for the checker's reassurances that this is not so unusual, and promise to return later today. Ugh.
On the walk across the sunny parking lot it hits me that I can't pay for my coffee date this morning, either. A year ago I would have been reduced to tears by this situation. I would have been so mortified at my own irresponsibility that hot, shameful sobs would have erupted from my chest as I sat behind the wheel of my car. Not today. Stephanie will understand. We can laugh about it together and I'll offer to pay next time. I'll roll my eyes at how this could have happened and we will have a pleasant visit anyway.
I am astonished at how difficult it was for me to overcome the obstacles that stood between me and others. I was completely unable to trust my friends and family to accept me as something other than perfect and competent and always prepared. It took a lot of hard work and practice asking for and accepting help from others to get me here, but I like it. I like that I don't spend time berating myself for being 'stupid' and 'thoughtless' when, truthfully, I've only made a mistake. I've only allowed myself to be human, and showed that side to others that care for me. What a frightening exercise that is, but the rewards are beyond my ability to express. Instead of spending the entire coffee date full of anxiety and self-loathing, I was able to genuinely engage with a friend and have a truly relaxed experience. Hallelujah!