Inevitable Crossings

South Jersey, a small little beach town cannot hide what you’re not trying to see. It’s been 10 months and I avoided running into the past that I have worked so hard to forget. Still, it is like a shadow that inevitably reveals itself, reminding you of what once was. It is crazy for me to see how much others have not been able to move on with their lives even years later when memories are now fuzzy with dust.

When I moved away the second time it was due to two heartbreaks, the passing of my closest cousin and the infidelity of my best friend. For years I delt with both losses. One still wears on my heart like an itchy wool sweater because he is no longer able to enjoy and share in the journey of this world. The other I learned to forgive as well as forget. I knew that once coming back to my hometown, the later would resurface but I would be damned if I would make it easy for a chance encounter. I almost made it an entire year.

Like mentioned before, this area is small, where everyone knows everyone and if they don’t know you, there will still be various mutual acquaintances to keep you tethered. That’s how we ended up crashing into each other again. I remember it being innocent and refreshing. I felt as though full closure was finally had, and to know that we could each move on with our lives without the weight of a tragic and heartbreaking past weighing us down was a great feeling. In my mind there was no longer a full need to dodge, for both parties were in accordance, a synchronized dance. Yet, it was two days later that I heard through the grapevine that things were not well; drama was to ensue.

Honestly, what the actual fuck did I think was going to happen? Not everyone is going to be like me. Not everyone can forgive or forget, even if it was them that were the snake in Eden’s garden. I decided to ignore the gossip, although juicy. I also couldn’t help feel the slight ego boost that infiltrated my soul. A moment in which it all came full circle, knowing that ultimately they did not succeed in their malicious plan to thwart something so natural. Never the less, it was none of my business and I wanted no part of being caught up in the spectacle. She, however, could not help it.

Weeks later I run into him again, even though at this point there was no mistaking, it wasn’t coincidental. I knew he was finding ways to bring himself around and on this specific night I decided to let him know that this, what he was doing was not only brazen, but dissapointing. I now understood that there had not been much change that had taken place in the time of my absence. Even though I wanted to believe that with age there had been much growing amongst all involved, that had simply not been the case.

“We need to talk,” he begged as I turned away from him. “Just give me a minute.” Without wanting to be rude or cold, I allowed him the minute, but he only got about 10 seconds in before I stopped him. He began by asking me why it was that I had contacted his wife in order to tell her that we had seen each other. I laughed. I was shocked at the lie she had configured and even more so at the fact that he believed her. The serpent had slithered her way into trying to gain information and he fell for her trickery. I give her props, but then immediately took it back. I don’t like to be used as a manipulation tactic.

“I have absolutley no need to contact your wife. I haven’t spoken to her in over 5 years. I also have no time for childish games. Please, both of you need to forget about me just as I have moved on from all of you. You’re no more than a grain of sand in my sandbox.” And with that I relocated to another area of the bar.

He ended up following right behind but his boys, my angels, decided to send him packing, but not before he could rob himself a hug and a drunken smooch on my cheek. A smooch that cost him a hard and boney elbow to his chest. “Get off of me! Don’t you EVER do that again!” With that, he was wisked away into an uber.

Apologies and messages of shock radiated from his friends. I wasn’t too surprised at his actions so I told his friends there truly was no need of an apology from them. This was exactly the kind of thing I was used to years ago, when all of this was my life. Now however, I would not tolerate the disrespect be it towards me or his serpent. I left this life long ago and there was no way in hell I wanted any part of it back. A friendship, at most, would have been the only thing I was open for when it came to these circus clowns but now seeing as though conflict is all they still swam in, I was not at all interested.

As sure as I am that I will see them around for the world is too small, I am equally as sure that I won’t even take a glance in their direction. All I will say is that it’s sad to see people in your life staying trapped in a time that truly has no present purpose other than to keep you chained to unease and unhappiness. When you notice that their days are filled with empty monotony and lack of passion. They mesure their success with titles and tangibles and never seem to notice that they never evolved into their full potential simply because they got caught up with trying to manipulate life. Life isn’t a game. It is a beautiful journey of inner growth and spiritual learning. Many may not understand this, but I do. So I will continue on my path without taking much of a glance back, because what’s important to me is making a consious effort in maintaing my inner peace, while showing others that it is ok to evolve in to a more happier and peaceful version of what once was.

Throwback: A Message to My FL Fam

**A Journal entry dated 2 months ago. Here’s a message that still rings true.                           To: My FL fam.**

I’m packing away my life once again.

People often ask me what it feels like to move around so often. It depends on the situation I suppose. Sometimes, packing feels like running away. The pressure to get out mounts until you’re bursting through the doors with the last box or suitcase in hand. You peer up and look through the rear-view with a smirk on your face, realizing that the only time you’ll look back on this moment is to relive the feeling of fleeing for freedom.

Packing this time didn’t feel this way. This time packing was bittersweet. I cried a bunch; sobbed tears of joy, tears of sadness, tears of excitement, and tears of nervousness. I remember how I felt the day I first viewed my current FL apartment as this “potential” FL apartment, which later turned home (then turning in a place I never wanted to go to). I remember telling myself that I wasn’t going to be moving for a while after this. My roommate and I felt refreshed starting over in a more roomy place with better lighting, better neighbors, a better location, and simply put, just a better way of living. That’s when life happened. It shattered all and any hope of me wanting to continue this life here in Florida on my own, because in reality that’s exactly where I was, not only on my own but also all alone.

Between having to deal with my close friend/roommate’s relapse  (emotionally and financially), the feeling of being alone, and missing what has always been important to me, my family and close childhood friends I’ve had enough. My 11 years in FL haven’t been wasted. I’ve experienced so much; adventures, moments I would’ve never had if not for living in the “Sunshine State”. Still, I feel like it’s now time to go on home. I haven’t been doing anything here that I couldn’t be doing back home. Every time I go back home I see my mother just a tad bit older. These are the years that I can’t waste away because who knows how much longer I have with her. So I back home is where I go because for now, it’s where I feel like I need to be.

The irony is making a close circle of friends in the last few weeks before my departure. As I pack up the last bits of my life I reminisce on these last few weeks and although I’m sad to be leaving, I’m happy that I leave with the knowledge that I did make a family away from family. This family came to be unexpected and formed without me even noticing what was taking place. The people who kept tabs on me while I was sick. Those, that when they knew that I was undergoing tremendous amounts of stress, made sure that I remembered to breath, and to look at the glass half full, bubbly, and fun. These are the same people who would listen, understand… and who didn’t judge. These are the people that no matter the distance, I’ll always have my Florida family; a home away from home.

From the Southwest coast over to the Southeast coast, pieces of my heart left behind like bread crumbs. 

Surviving The Game

Before you ever think about quitting something give yourself an extra week or two, because in a matter of 14 days, things could actually turn around for you. Two weeks can seem like a long time when you’re struggling but the rewards you could possibly benefit from are really worth the sacrifice.

The week before the busiest weekend of the year for us at my new job was honestly one of the most annoying work weeks I had had at any job ever. So much so that I had started sending out resumes to places that I knew I could quickly get hired. I had immediately gotten two interviews for doing what I’ve always done, serving. Was I thrilled about a possible new job change? Nope, not one bit. I mean I had wanted to take a dip out of the restaurant world for a while so going back to serving wasn’t something I was particularly thrilled about. It was however comfortable for me. I knew the server world and so it wouldn’t have been such a struggle like the challenges the floral business was presenting me. Not only was the comfortability there but so was the insta-cash. There was no waiting two weeks for a paycheck. After every shift, there it was, a wad of cash for you to bring home and do whatever you wanted (or needed) to do.

I went on one interview. The other I set up for after Mother’s Day weekend. No matter what I decided to do, all I knew was that I would not like to leave the floral job before or during their busiest time of year. The owners had always treated me well. To be honest they all had treated me well. Minus a couple hiccups between the manager and I (two strong, like minded woman can at times bump heads) I could say that I enjoyed the people that I worked with so screwing them over right before Mother’s Day was out of the question. I did however struggle with communicating the fact the after the holiday I was planning on leaving. Should I give them a letter of resignation? Or should I keep it to myself and deal with it afterwards? I decided to stay quiet about my plan until I had something legit materialize. I’m so glad I did.

Mother’s Day craziness started that Thursday. The amount of orders that were coming in was something I hadn’t expected. Yes my coworker’s had tried to warn me about what to expect but I have come to realize that in life most people often exaggerate even the tiniest of things. They were not exaggerating. I had been put in charge of phones so that meant dealing with customer inquiries, taking their orders, completing orders, as well as any random miscellaneous things that needed to be done around the shop to help expedite the work of others. My headset had stayed on me the entire time I was working with only bathroom breaks giving my ear a small moment of freedom from the constrictive device. I noticed that much of what I was doing was using many of my server qualities. I shined when it came to dealing with the customers. I was able to quickly guide them through our ordering process, sometimes even guiding them in certain directions. If there was a particular piece that the owner wanted to push out and get rid of I could easily talk a customer into purchasing it. The organizational skills that were needed in order to keep everything moving smoothly was something I excelled at. Compliments from my coworkers and the owners were given to me since they hadn’t seen anyone handle the chaos as well as I had. To be fair, I have always excelled when work is at its busiest. To keep my mind and body moving from one task to another is what has always worked best for me. Working under pressure is when I shine.

The weekend came and went in blur. We all were pulling 16 hours shifts and by Sunday it was like a new wave of emotions towards my job came over me. During the four days we had all bonded. Working so hard together as a single unit gave it a more family feel. We executed what needed to be done and we had done it harmoniously. Even though we had been slammed with work for hours on end barely able to take breaks in between, there ended up being no fussing and no fighting. Had we walked out of there exhausted? Of course, but we had gotten through it, and we had done it well.

I had quickly started rethinking my moves. I started feeling as though I had also proven myself to not only my coworkers but also the owners of the shop. The vibe between them and me had changed. I felt as though I was a part of this close knit family and I liked it. I no longer felt the pressure of wanting to get out of this place. If anything, I wanted to stay. I had an interview scheduled for that Monday after Mother’s Day weekend and I decided not to go. I thought to myself that I would instead stick this out and see how it went for me. That Tuesday I was called randomly into the office by one of the owners. Fuck… “Am I about to get fired? Should I had just gone on that interview and then I wouldn’t be so worried about being fired right now?… I should have gone on that stupid interview..” were my thoughts as I was walking towards the back office.

I sat down in the chair directly across from him. I never get nervous. I don’t get nervous on job interviews. I don’t get nervous on dates. Yet, here I am sitting eye to eye with one of the shop’s owners knowing that I’m about to get fired from a job that just a week before I was already contemplating leaving, and I was nervous. I couldn’t stop fidgeting with my fingers. I picked at my nails, I played with my rings, none of which made me feel any better for what was about to come.

“Natalia, I want to start off by saying that you did  great job working for us over the holiday weekend…” Here it goes. The compliment before the let go. Why do business owners do this? To soften the blow? Jesus…let’s just get this shit over with shall we? “..I wanted to let you know that I was really impressed by your work…” Impressed? Do you fire people that impress you? I never fired anyone so I wouldn’t really know. “The way you handled the workload for someone who has only been here a little less than two month’s is something that genuinely shocked me and I don’t get shocked often.” Great.. I shocked him into firing me. Good going Natalia. “Before I continue on with where I’m going with this, I do want to ask you something?” I just stare at him. I may have blinked, I don’t think I did. “How long do you plan on staying with this company?” His cold blue eyes bore into my soul. Now was the moment of truth. I either fight for my job or easily walk away from it.

“Well..” my voice sounded weird. We sat in a small office but it felt like my voice was echoing down a long hall to reach where he was sitting. “…I would like to stay with the company for as long as you all want me here. I have always been one to like a challenge and that’s why I applied to work here initially. It hasn’t been easy but because of that I feel as though a good day here super exceeds a good day anywhere else I’ve worked, because I’ve excelled at something I had no prior knowledge or experience doing before. I know that at the moment your company may be small but I also know that it’s growing and I would like to see myself grow along with it.” He stared at me for a little bit. Maybe for one more second too long. I was about to fidget in my seat when he started talking again.

“Natalia, I foresee a lot of things happening with this company, and you are right, it is growing and it’s happening rapidly. I would like for you to to stay with us and because of all the hard work and effort you have shown I am going to do something that I do not typically do for people that have been here for as short of a time such as you have been. I’m giving you a raise.” What the fu….. Did I just here this correctly? “I’m increasing your pay by a dollar. The manager has also brought to my attention what an asset it has been having you here and so I do want you to know that although there are times in which you two may bump heads, she is in your corner. There is something that she will be giving you at the end of the day before you leave so make sure you see her on your way out.” The smile in the corners of his eyes were like a soft warm blanket on a cold winter day. I don’t know how many times I thanked him. I can’t even tell you exactly what I said before leaving his office. I was overwhelmed with shock because it had not been something I was expecting. Not in the least bit.

For the rest of my day I felt like I was walking on clouds. It had been rainy and ugly out but sunshine was brightly beaming from inside of me. Before I left at the end of my shift I met up with my manager in which she thanked me for all my hard work and handed me an envelope. “This is for you. Just a little extra something so you know that you are appreciated.” Was this a bonus? I wasn’t sure but even the simple compliment and “thank yous” was enough to inspire a hug out of me. It wasn’t until I got to my car that I opened the envelope. Inside was a check addressed to me for $300, I shit you not. I was ecstatic. Not only would this allow me to catch up on certain important bills I had left unattended due to lack of funds, but there were people I wanted to pay back for helping me here and there with the little everyday things of life. I was so happy.

Since that day, my moment’s at work are always positive. The entire vibe between the other girls and I has changed for the better. I no longer feel like an outsider. I am now creating arrangements and even surprising myself at how well I’ve been doing at it. There have been moments of guilt though that I still live with. Throughout the time that I was getting a raise and praise, I lost two of my fellow coworkers. They had gotten let go due to one reason or another. Sadness and guilt engulfed me because it was of course the two girls I had gotten along with the most. Both had been there slightly longer than I had. Both had placed a lot of time, dedication, and frustration into this job. I felt as though maybe the decision to keep me had maybe played in the decision to fire them. In an odd way if feels like a sort of survivor’s guilt. Do they feel the same? I know one in particular does. She did mention in a moment of anger that I “beat her” in the race. They were cold words that hit my heart, especially coming from someone I had thought I had befriended in a time in which I felt so out of place. I do understand the roller coaster of emotions  when unexpected displacement happens and I know she probably didn’t mean to hurt my feelings, so I try not to really think about it. Maybe she was right though, in the end I had survived a game I hadn’t known I was playing.

For now, I continue each work day doing the best I can. I still struggle a bit here and there but they are challenges I welcome for challenges are what keeps my mind and soul strong. My advice for people out there that are maybe struggling with something new, keep at it. Keep trying and give yourself time. Remember that no one is born knowing and that to even have set out in trying something out of your comfort zone keeps you one step ahead. Don’t be so hard on yourself for we are our own worst critic and most times our inner voices are what keeps us from feeling good about what we are doing for ourselves. Remember that by trying something new you are opening up doors for yourself that you would have never come across if you would have stayed in the comforting monotony of what once was. Keep at it with a positive mind and heart and life will reward you with much more than you ever thought possible.

Paint6.2

 

I Can Assure You This Much

In my 31 years of observing life , one of the many things I have noticed with human beings is that no matter how kind or good-hearted you may be, you will always have at least one hater among the friendly faces.

People will hate you for your honesty.

People will hate you for pursuing a better life for yourself.

People will hate you for going after your dreams and not settling for less.

People will hate you for your happiness, especially if it outweighs their own.

They will hate if you chose to walk the unbeaten path.

They will hate you for putting your feelings and goals above their own.

Maybe you weren’t there for them the one time out of the 80, and because you weren’t a help that ONE TIME, they now hate you for it; stating that you were never there for them when they needed you.

Maybe your priorities are set a little different, different from their own. Don’t worry. They will hate you for that too.

Have you been sharing your stories, lets say, for constructive purposes? Have you been sharing in order to help a greater good? Yep, they will hate you for that too.

Let us take a look at some of the greats: Buddha, Jesus Christ, Princess Diana, Bono, Mother Teresa, all of which are some of the greatest humanitarians that this planet has ever seen. Yet even they have people with a list a mile long stating the things they hate about them.

I am no Mother Teresa I can assure you that much, but I can relate as I am sure you all can (yea, I’ll have a hater for this statement too) . We all have a hater or two (or 20) hanging around reminding us why we are “terrible” people. For many of you out there the need to please everyone you come in contact with is great, but I can assure you that you will drive yourself crazy trying to satisfy the many personalities that roam this planet. No one entity can make every human being happy, not even God, so how could you?

This life is your only life to live so live it to your truth without concern and without regret. You can still be a good person and selfishly live your life. Our time here is limited so the worst thing you could do is worry about what others around you make think of you. Most times they are lost as to what they should be doing with themselves, with their lives. Live your truth. Go after your own happiness. Do not resent those who hate you for what you are doing. Instead show them that they too can achieve the things they want out of life if they decide to one day tune out negativity. Be that example and show the world that no matter what, no matter how tainted and imperfect you are, you are still able to dance among the stars.