Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Coconut Cream Pie Saves the Day

At some point yesterday, I stumbled across the knowledge that the day – January 23rd – was known as National Pie Day. I shared the information on Facebook and said that someone should help me commemorate the occasion by making me a coconut cream pie.

It was a joke and I didn’t expect any kind of follow-up.

I quickly forgot about the whole thing, thanks to the stress of a crappy day. It was the usual stuff; I was tired, work was stressful, and there were lots of money woes. Then I got word that our computer, which had shot craps earlier in the week, needed to be completely replaced; not repaired.

My daughter and I headed to Best Buy after work; a 45-minute drive when I was already bedraggled from the day. She was tired, too. But not tired enough to sleep in the car, of course…just tired enough to be grumpy. And she was hungry. I was grumpy, too, and not happy about making an unplanned – and un-budgeted for – major electronics purchase.

The process wasn’t horrible, but was as stressful as I knew it would be; “this computer is good, but this one would do better for what you want”…”you don’t have to buy this service, but if you don’t, then XYZ will probably happen”…”for just another $70, we can add ABC123 to the computer”…blah-blah-blah. I just wanted it over. I turned down things I maybe should have gotten, got a few things I probably didn’t need, and wrapped it up ASAP.

I could have stopped to get my grumpy kid some food, but I was ready to be home. To crash at the end of a long and tiring and stressful day. So we booked it home.

As I knew it would, buyers remorse set in. Should I have bought this thing? Should I just have paid to have the other one fixed? Sure, it was only a little more to get a new one, and the old one was pretty much on its last leg. Sure, if I fixed the old one, it might break again in short order, and I’d be out that money. Sure, I know I didn’t HAVE to take any action right now. But, very unfortunately, a computer is pretty much a “need” for me these days.

So I went from stressed and grumpy to anxious.

I wanted to be home. I was speeding.

And then, in the blink of an eye, flashing red and blue LED lights filled the dark backseat of my car. Great…on top of an unplanned multi-hundred dollar computer purchase now I was gonna get a speeding ticket. And I was so wound up and jumpy from the stress of the whole day by that point that the cop would probably think I was whacked out on goofballs.

I turned my head around to see my four-year old, grumpy daughter, finally smiling…tapping her foot on the back of the passenger seat, making her beloved “Twinkle Toes” shoes light up. Kate’s Twinkle Toes are her prized possession; the thing she wanted more than anything else in the world this past Christmas. They’re cute. They’re fun. The flash blue and red lights when you walk. And they are B-R-I-G-H-T!

When we gave them to her for Christmas, we didn’t wrap them; we just left them sitting in the open, under the tree, amidst all of her other gifts. Naturally, she was the first one up that morning and she came running into my room and woke me up by slamming them against my bedside table in the dark, about 4 inches from my sleeping eyes. I awoke, certain that the aliens had finally come for me.

So, there she sat in the backseat; a grumpy, hungry kid who’d just suffered a 45 minute drive with a grumpy dad, barely made it through an hour-long visit at a big-box electronics store that held no interest for her, and now, halfway through the 45 minute drive back, she’d finally found something that made her happy.

And all I could say was, “Don’t EVER do that again!” I realized how mean and stupid that was, so I tried to soften it. “Please, don’t flash those like that in the dark when I don’t know you’re doing it...” Even stupider. I finally explained that I thought it was a police car chasing me. Which scared her. Once she “got it”, she felt bad for scaring me. I felt bad for scaring her. She cried. I almost cried.

It was the breaking point that had been a long time coming. I felt bad. We talked about it and both recognized that neither one of us felt good and neither one of us was acting on our best behavior. I apologized, she apologized, and we forgave each other. She’s got a pretty amazing depth of understanding about stuff like this. She’s pretty awesome that way.

We were both still kind of grumpy. I wasn’t really anxious anymore. But after the emotional fireworks, I was even more wiped out than before. More ready than ever to just get home, find something to eat, and get to bed early.

I realize how pathetic this all sounds. I know if this is the worst day I ever have, then I’ll be fortunate. I know people deal with worse stuff than this every day. I’m not trying to throw a pity party. I have a point, I promise.

I’m just trying to paint a picture of one of those days where life just wins. We all have those days from time to time. Yesterday was my day and I was just ready for it to be over. To try again tomorrow.

And just then, right after the fallout of the stressful day, I got a text from a friend who was part of the college group I used to lead. She asked if I’d be around at 9 p.m. that night. Truth be told, I’d planned on being in some sort of (legal) chemically-induced deep sleep by that point, but I told her I’d be around and asked what was up.

She said: “Weeellll…We may have in our possession a coconut cream pie…. ;)

I know…I wrote about BROWNIES yesterday, now I’m writing about pie. It’s not got anything to do with the food. As a fat guy, I don’t usually like to write or talk about food. It’s too easy. Too obvious. So I try not to do it at all.

But these two events have been good reminders for me.

I’m on a kind of major life journey right now, which kinda sucks. I enjoy it in a masochistic way and I’m excited to see how it unfolds. But, at the same time, it’s unpleasant. It hurts.

I used to run a non-profit organization that was all about encouraging small acts of kindness. You know, like bringing someone their favorite pie when they’re down. Its purpose was to highlight that the world can be changed for the better, in small increments, when you do thoughtful and kind things like that.

In a lot of ways, facilitating that charity was a starting point on this whole journey. In the few years since then, many of my beliefs, philosophies, thoughts, and attitudes have changed (including many of those that the whole charity was based on).

My point is this:

My friends didn’t know I was having an epically bad day. I also presume they knew that my Facebook status about wanting someone to make me a pie was a joke.

They didn’t do it because they thought I really wanted them to. They didn’t do it to make up for my crummy day.

They simply saw an opportunity to show love and make me happy. And they took it.

They bought a coconut cream pie and brought it to my house, along with a few friends. We ate pie and talked and laughed.

And the day that had previously seemed so unbelievably crummy then simply seemed…funny.

All of this rambling is to say something I’ve been saying a lot lately; there is love. I may not know what else there is in the world that’s really and truly for real. But there is love.

I’m working out a lot of big stuff. It hurts. And it’s unpleasant. It’s hard work.

But I have people who love me. And as long as I have that, I have everything.

Thank you for the pie, my friends.

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