Deliberation of Happenstance

00:00 September 30, 2011
By: Debbie Lindsey

Amazing how an old mattress and box spring wedged into a U-Haul can bring on a moment, a memory, so strong you find yourself on the verge of tears. I was walking my constipated little dog on a Sunday morning as I watched my young neighbor packing to move. She had help--- Dads and those orange and white trailers seem to go together. I was taken back some twenty odd years ago to my own move.

I asked where she was going and “D.C.” was the answer and of course she added, “I will miss New Orleans”. I wasn’t acquainted with her well enough to know if this place was her home or just one along the way and her voice didn’t convey how she felt about her new destination. But there’s always a tinge of doubt or regret attached to every move so I told her that it might be the best thing she’s ever done. My big move certainly was.

As I walked on I thought how different and small my life would be today had I not loaded up my belongings and left my hometown. Yet, on that long ago morning, as I hugged and cried good-byes with Mom and Dad, it was not done with certainty. Unpacked and left behind would be every comfort dear to me.

Sometimes we never know how much we need a change. Rearrangements of an office, landscape, or home can produce more efficiency, growth or comfort. But changing one’s heart or mindset can change the world or at least your own. A relationship, like the one that leaves those blue and black smudges along your arm that fade just in time for the next round of tattoos you can’t explain away, is something worth evaluating. If you find your life is worth saving then you dump their sorry ass. Change is food; it fuels us for the next step.

Through my years as a waitress I have heard, more often than not, complaints, rants, and moans about the trays attached to our hands and the seemingly endless circling of tables for tips. Customers become the enemy. And for those who do not choose this lively-hood but instead fall into it the entire restaurant becomes a hostile territory. They need to quit and stop denigrating a profession that for some folks is fulfilling.

About ten years ago I felt the same way— burned out and abused by the restaurant grind. I changed to a less tourist driven café in the business district. It was light years away from the Quarter. My long standing customer base of folks attired in tee-shirts, shorts, tennis shoes and the obligatory strand of Mardi Gras beads was replaced by coat and tie, heels and Gucci. Suits from the legal and business sector. Oh Gawd! A big mistake. Within a month I longed for all the inane chit chat and questions presented by the tourists because at least they wanted to look me in the eye and pass a good time—they were on vacation, fun and relaxation were what they wanted. My suits were in a hurry to get back to work or talk shop with their table companions. I was simply a server—no more, no less.

I had always thought I wanted a more gentile profession like selling art or ladies clothing. So back to the Tourists Sector, but I would skip the waitressing. I hung up my apron. No more slip-proof shoes for me. No more smelling like stale beer and gumbo. I could dress like a lady! I was Miss Eliza Doolittle. I was a Shop Girl. But retail sucked the soul out of me. I stank like a fish out of water. Sometimes a change is needed…to realize that you don’t really want a change.

Taking a chance, changing a routine, or just following a twist of fate can open up a new world. Even save your life.

Cooking lasagna saved my friend’s. She was stressed to the extreme preparing this dish for a dinner date. A migraine ensued and a fortuitous visit to her doctor followed. Instead of the usual approach of masking with medication this doctor ran tests--he just didn’t think a healthy young woman should have these headaches. Bingo, she had Hodgkin’s. This cancer was in the early stages; they nailed it, and that was thirty healthy years ago.

Don’t wait for lasagna to rescue you—give fate a nudge in the right direction. Be brave and find out why you’re suddenly too thin or have a lump in your breast. Can’t get it up anymore? Well Mister, there is a reason; and it might not be the end of the world—if you’d change your routine just long enough to visit your doctor. Be in control of change. I nearly let a blemish on my face have the upper hand. The Dermatologist diagnosed Basal Cell Carcinoma and it was removed. Not the big daddy bad ass C. So what’s the big deal? Had I waited it would have found its way into the eye socket and there would have been much more to remove--my eye for example. Tackle change on your own terms and maneuver the outcome to your advantage.

Lack of change, an opportunity left unvisited, chances on love not taken, walks cut short, corners not turned…and the regrets that linger. But here’s the kicker: for every adventure not explored there is something left in its place and the fate that fills it can surprise and be even more fulfilling. But if you do not recognize these moments they might slip by without a memory, a photograph, a lesson learned.

The love of my life found me because of moments and past loves that didn’t work out or last. Failed, outgrown, or ill-fated relationships, which at the moment seemed soul shattering, were simply steps along the way. There have been many fingerprints placed upon my heart but only one holds it now— and I damn well won’t let him drop it. A lot can change in a moment and if lucky some things can last a lifetime. Make those moves, turn those corners…see what happens.

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