July 22nd 2015
Story originally written and experienced: May 17th 2011
Oprah gave us the day off.
But only because.
Of all time.
And she was flying my bosses at Oprah Magazine from
New York City >>>>>> Chicago
Just for the occasion.
So we stayed behind.
Organizing Oprah Winfrey’s underwear in the fashion closet until they all got back.
But for one day.
We were given the day off.
And that, my friends.
Was spectacular news.
I spent the day sleeping in, partially out and about, and returned later that evening with Chipotle in hand, overhearing my roommate—who also interned with me—on the phone with her brother when I walked through the door, telling him why we had the day off and following it up with:
“It’s just so weird to think about. Oprah’s show is finally coming to an end after 25 years—the show we’ve all grown up with, that’s never not been on the air since I’ve been alive. And the craziest part is? Our kids aren’t going to have any idea who she is. The impact she had.
It’s the end of an era.
And it’s pretty funny that Olive and I are folding her underwear while she’s doing the whole damn thing.”
I sat down at our kitchen table whilst she continued to chatter endlessly on the phone. Threw my bag down by a chair. And ate some triscuits while I attempted to unwind. Their conversation segued into other things like good food in the city and something else about cats.
My mind was still stuck on the last enlightening topic I eavesdropped on.
Because I guess what she said was true.
Things were going to be different. Were different. Or were on their way to being different.
Which made me think about motorcycles.
And the last time I was on one.
(It’s related, I promise.)
It was the summertime. And I was in Toledo, Ohio, my hometown, around 7:00 PM. The air was thick. The grass was dewy. And I was waiting until my ride would arrive outside.
I heard his motorcycle from a mile away.
John—a long-time friend who I’d always see on my summer breaks—was about to pull into my driveway.
I could hear it.
We never saw each other. And likely wouldn’t for another year or so. So we decided to take a ride around and catch up, prompted by his sentence, “I want to show you something.”
“What is it?” I asked as I secured my helmet and mounted the back seat.
“You’ll see,” he said, revving up the engine and zooming us way far away.
======== Onto the highway.
====== Past more exits.
========= And more.
Wind whipping past my face, stinging my complexion, aerating my hair and elevating my adrenaline too.
T i l t
He made his way towards an exit and began to s l o w d o w n until he finally pulled into a parking lot and up to an abandoned building that you could tell was once thriving and new. But now. It was dark. Boarded up. And anonymous.
“What is this?” I asked, unbuckling my helmet and putting it to rest on my leg.
“This used to be my store.”
John’s family owned a series of farmer’s markets around the town. People loved them.
But it was a smaller business. A tough one to expand if you didn’t pick the very right place. And at one point, John tried opening his own branch of it. And it did well for a little while.
After that little while.
He had to shut down it down.
“Business started well, but then it dwindled. And I wasn’t making as much as I needed to keep it open. I wasn’t sleeping. I was constantly worrying. So I decided to close it down and try again some other time. But for a while it was cool. It was all mine. And I loved that.”
“Are you sad about it?”
“Not sad. It wasn’t the right time I guess. It’s just weird to think that at one point this store looked so familiar here. And now it looks like it never existed. But that goes for a lot of places I guess. See that Boston Market over there?” he said pointing across the street to the remnants of a place that was once a regular lunch place to many, but now transitioning into some sort of bank. “No one will ever know it was there. We’re going to see so many businesses rise and
disappear in our lifetime. But I guess that’s a good thing. In some way. Makes the little places you revisit, that have survived years after years, that much more worth it to see again, and any new place means we’re at least trying something new.”
It was weird to hear things like that.
And I thought about that again as I sat at my kitchen table in New York City. On my day off. With my roommate in the other room still chatting on the phone (in a now segued conversation about the benefits of tequila.) that the same notion of ending TV shows and even the replaceability of buildings, can somewhat apply to just about everything else too. The notion that:
Beginnings and ends aren’t so bad.
Things start for a reason.
And end for a reason.
In big and little ways.
Whether it’s the ending of the TV show, a new building, or even better, the more discreet trade outs of wardrobe pieces, company or even the latest device:
The Eiffel tower will always be there.
But not the same way. Because the quality of camera used to take a picture of it, filter, and tell the world about it will be much different than it used to be—potentially prompting that photo viewer to end their current adventure and take a trip to Paris instead.
Your greatest friends will stay the same.
But you didn’t always see them that way. Because where you are in life, where you live now and all the memories made since the first time you met were vital beginnings and endings to get you to the emotional epitome of where you are now.
You’ll always have clothes.
But not the same ones (sans the one high school band t-shirt that will never die). They won’t look the same later. You’ll wear your favorite things to death. Find something else you dig just as much. And then 5 years later donate 70% of it to goodwill. You’ll begin and end your style 643 times and build your way to individuality. And let’s be honest, the world is a less aggressive place since we’ve decided to put a hard ending to our fashion sense circa birth:
The world wouldn’t be nearly as interesting to live in if it looked and felt the same the entire time we’ve been in it.
We’d be bored.
It’s why we take chances. Roll with punches. Watch the new spin-off of an iconic show. Or try that new farmer’s market that popped up too.
Keep doing what you’re doing.
See the world it is the way now—appreciate the hell out of what it is, who’s in it and what you’re doing in it while you’re there.
And don’t look at it the same way later.
And make the reason because:
You’ve been busy exhausting every endeavor. Bonding with the best. Adjusting to the unexpected.
And realizing somewhere along the way that.
Everything looks and feels a little different than it used to.
Because you let it.
And that’s spectacular news.