June 15th, 2016
Story originally written and experienced: June 22nd, 2012
“Can we wine and dine tonight?
And not like the ‘let’s make mac n’ cheese like a college kid and pop open a $4.99 bottle of wine from the local liquor store’ kind of wine and dine, but the real kind. Like the ‘let’s go to a legit restaurant and spoil ourselves for the hell of it’ kind of wine and dine.”
And my response was:
It was a summer night in New York City—June 2012—and my friend and I were both going through a lot shit—in desperate need of a night to eat spectacular food and drink overpriced drinks, because for some reason…
That felt like the cure.
So I said:
And she said:
“Great. Grab your jacket.”
So I grabbed my leather jacket, punctuated my body with leather boots and headed for the door
while she followed
in an oversized sweater and loose-fitting jeans.
We were en route to a fancy pants restaurant for no real reason at all. Well, other than…
We wanted to.
“Two please,” we told the hostess.
“Right this way.”
I snuggled into the booth she guided us to and my friend opted for opposite side. The hostess placed drink menus in front of us.
“Everything looks overpriced and amazing,” I commented.
“Just what we were looking for?”
“More than what we were looking for. I see something that says bacon and truffle in the same sentence and it feels so right.”
“Can I get you ladies anything to drink?” The approaching waiter asked us with a fresh-pressed shirt and neatly tailored apron.
“Hmmm I’ll take the prosecco,” I requested with certainty.
“Anddd…I’ll go for the chardonnay.”
“Great!” he said whisking his pen away from his pad, “I’ll be right back with those.”
I took a sip of my complimentary water whilst we massacred the complimentary bread.
“What should we order?”
“Mmm…I don’t know. Something we can’t pronounce?”
We picked two ambiguous entrees and pushed our menus to the side, more interested in conversation and just things we needed to get off of our chest.
She began to t r a i l off about her job at Vanity Fair, mentioned her text-message break up with her boyfriend and eventually segued into a topic I knew wasn’t easy for her to talk about—the topic of her mom who had multiple sclerosis.
But before she brought it up, she asked me:
“Olive…do you ever get embarrassed…or…sad…when people ask about your dad?“
“Why do you ask?”
“Um…because…that’s how I feel about my mom…sometimes…I know that sounds bad. I’ve just been thinking about it more lately because she’s going through one of her bad phases. And she’s increasingly becoming just a shell of who she used to be.
Which isn’t her fault.
It’s just been such thing in my family for so long, I’m not sure how to emotionally address it anymore. Because I mean sure, I have a physical mom…but she’s no longer the person who takes care of me or talks to me about my problems—she’s the person who lays down every day because she her body is too weak to go anywhere else and a person who can’t remember who I am or even who she is more and more every day. Olive, last week she asked me where I worked. I’ve had my job for over three months and she still doesn’t have a single idea where I work…because she doesn’t remember. She can’t…what do I do? I feel guilty for taking a night to myself and putting that part of my life on pause for a second, but at the same time, I really think I needed this.”
She did really need it.
And what she said made a lot of sense, for a lot of people. Whether it was the emotional burden she felt with her mom or my other friend’s emotional weight he felt with his dad’s brain tumor over the last six years.
Or even vice >< versa.
The guilt the other party might feel that they can’t be as good and well as they used to be for the kids they raised from the
And even on that scale, or even a less dramatic one, it’s true to say:
We’ve all felt this way.
The feeling of being pulled 4 million and one directions at once—your job, your friendships, your relationships, your responsibilities—to the point where doing something for yourself, or even making time for yourself, almost feels wrong. “Where are you?” “Did you do this?” “Can you do this?” Because as humans living jam-packed human lives, it’s a complex question to ask yourself every day:
“Is it possible to be selfless and selfish at the same time?”
“Is it okay if I take a quick break?”
“Am I wrong if I just do me…just for a second?”
I’ve found that I do everything a whole hell of a lot better when I give myself a damn break from time to time. I job better, I friendship better, I live better. Probably because it’s humanly healthy and definitely because it’s A-okay. So whatever it is you’re going through—Big impactful life events or even a string of small ones that are constantly calling your name—remember that the more you take care of you?
The better you can take care of others and other things.
It’s science. And it’s good for you. And sometimes, it comes in the form of prosecco, ambiguously delicious entrees and an end-feeling of: