I am ridiculously lucky.
You wouldn’t know it to hear me bitch. I bitch about my kids not picking up after themselves. I bitch about needing new tires, and that I have precious little money to pay for said tires. I bitch that my toes are cold, and I bitch that I’m alone on nights that the kids go to hang out with their dad.
I’m an expert at bitching. Or an expert bitch, depending on who you ask. But I digress.
Thing is, I have absolutely no reason to bitch.
My kids are healthy, don’t get in trouble at school, and voluntarily hug me without asking for a thing in return. I have the money to buy new tires, and a car that will take me to see my dad for Thanksgiving. I have countless socks to warm my toes, and more importantly I have a home with heat, that I can choose to turn up if I so choose.
I have no reason to bitch.
In the past week I’ve shared the same air as Natalie Merchant and Anne Lamott. I’ve closed my eyes and listened to words—sung and spoken—that stirred my soul and tingled my senses and warmed every inch of my being, including my toes. Last night, I sat in the corner of a bistro with a glass of wine and a plate of carbs, and alternately read and sneaked peeks at the people who didn’t notice me there.
The middle aged, balding man and the very pretty twenty-something on their first date. She feigns interest but stares over him instead of at him, and doesn’t know that before she showed up, he was frantically checking his phone and pounding shots of liquid courage at the patio bar. I reckon the pictures he posted online showed him at his best, probably ten years ago, replete with hair and the twinkle still in his eyes. I know that the twinkle is probably gone because he’s lived through divorce and awkward visitation with his 2.5 kids on Wednesdays and every other weekend, but his date is too bright and shiny to see anything other than the glare from his hairless head.
The work group, five people squeezed around a table built for three, firing off marketing ideas between bites of calamari and crab cake and fried pickles. They run the waiter so ragged he’s forgotten my second Pinot Noir, and the bearded man laughs loudly at the wrong time, prompting a collective head turn from the three women trying to impress who I imagine to be the boss. The boss doesn’t notice; he’s staring at the waiter as the poor guy runs to and fro.
The four guys at the bar, all on their phones but watching the same sports show on the TV above the bar. One orders a martini while the others palm bottles of Michelob and Fat Tire and Boulevard Wheat. They’ve aced that together-but-alone thing, all facing toward the bar instead of each other and not really talking, but not really flying solo, either.
I can sit there, in that corner, because I’m a forty-something, chubby or grossly fat depending on who you ask, and I’m quiet and hidden behind a book. I can freely watch everyone because no one sees me. I can watch and wonder and then walk over and sit with friends and listen to a woman I admire talk about words and coffee filters and faith and hope, and then drive to my warm, safe, quiet home with Spotify playing Natalie and Ray and Amos and Lucinda on a loop, because I’m ridiculously lucky to live this life that is mine.
I have no reason to bitch.