I never expected to be working in a diner
at the age of 31, but a complex combination of events (read: severe bipolar disorder
) forced me out of work
for nearly two years. By the time I felt ready to return to the work force
, I was rusty in the ways of the real job
. I thought a mcjob
would be the best thing for a while, at least until I felt a little less intimidate
d by the prospect of a higher-pressure
I was half-right. This job pays fairly well (lots of regulars who leave pretty good tips), gets me out and around people (bipolars tend to isolate themselves), and is building my confidence in my ability to do any job well (my employment history is...er...a little spotty).
The down side includes dealing with a control freak boss, working with derisive college students, some pretty rude behavior from customers, and, of course, cleaning up other people's messes. Some days are better than others. Today was a good day, and here's why.
There is a couple who comes in for lunch almost daily since the restaurant opened in August. They are in their early 80's, I think, and are the kind of old people we all want to be - healthy, vibrant, peaceful, and friendly to everyone in a quiet and dignified sort of way. Nearly every day they walk in the door, hand-in-hand, and unlike some much younger people they are always trying new things off the "specials" menu. They are obviously not set in their ways, which is a soul killer of massive proportions, and best of all they love one another's company. They positively glow with the sheer thrill of being together. I've noticed a number of much younger couples who actually read the paper rather than force themselves to face the stranger across the table. Not these two - they chat with one another, hold hands under and across the table, and share their food with one another. For a while I thought they were dating rather than actually married!
I've been lucky enough to wait on them a time or two, and today they actually asked to be seated in my section. Noticing my wedding ring, the man asked me how long I've been married. I told him that Sam and I finally tied the knot this past June, and he and his wife were so excited for me! The woman (her name is Grace, and her husband's name is Glenn) said, "You know, there really is nothing better than finding a best friend that you can love forever. To wake up every day with my husband is still such a blessing, and we've just celebrated our sixtieth anniversary." As she was talking, he never took his eyes off of her. The love that radiated from them was a warm, living presence that dissolved the bad attitude I'd been nursing all afternoon.
She continued speaking to me, but she was looking into his eyes: "You'll have hard times-every couple does-probably fights over children or finances. Actually, we were just laughing the other day about the fact that..." -and here Glenn broke in-"...that we didn't really have a clue about love until we were in our fifties!"
She turned to me and smiled deep into my soul. "My wish for you, young lady, is that you and your husband are blessed to have even more time than we've had, and that the years are as kind to you as they have been to us."
Suddenly, so many things looked different to me...I felt as though I was on the cusp of a great adventure with my husband, rather than feeling "settled". I felt glad to know that we'll have years (if we're lucky) to discover new things about one another, that marriage doesn't have to mean stagnation. And I felt glad to be waiting tables in that little diner with a goofy grin on my face, taking lunch orders from a couple who gave me a few quietly miraculous reasons to look forward to the rest of my life.