April 8th 2015
Story originally written and experienced: April 28th 2013
“Do something scandalous.”
She told me.
As I choked on my french toast.
“You heard me.”
Here’s what happened:
We met at our usual street corner.
On 85th street &
Ave. on the Upper East Side.
“I want to take you out for a belated birthday brunch,” she told me on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
And with zero qulams I said:
Things were strange between us.
Had been for years.
But here we were.
Sitting at a brunch table.
Pretending like none of it ever happened.
It was just easier that way.
We talked about everything else.
Work. Vacations. The weather. Clothes.
“Oh, speaking of!” she said, reaching for a frilly pink bag by her side. “I got you this, for your birthday.”
I read the gold-glittered lettering as it was placed in front of me.
And then choked on my french toast when she said:
“Do something scandalous.”
“You heard me. You’re young. You’re in your 20s. Your 20s are for lingerie. There’s a gift card inside. Go buy yourself something sassy and do your thing.”
“Yeah, your thing. Also, I bought grandpa a leather jacket. He’s starting to look old.”
“That’s because he’s 83…”
We both smiled.
“I’m happy we’re back together,” she said, looking at me longingly, caressing my arm as she sipped her cappuccino to alleviate the gravity of what she just said.
“Me too.” I replied, pausing longer than I’d like.
“Cheers!” she shouted, breaking the silence and holding uP her mimosa glass. “To you, my darling. And to us. To this. And to your birthday.”
We both took a generous sip, simultaneously setting our glasses down with a harmonious hit on the table. And then I said:
“What was I like as a child?”
“Well…for one, you were always by your father’s side. He would take you absolutely everywhere. You were inseparable. He spoiled you a lot, you know. You liked that.”
We went silent.
Only because what she said was the epitome of a pain point for us.
“I um. Anyway,” she continued. “I remember there was this one time, you were four I believe, you were at my house and I put you to sleep. And after about an hour and a half I didn’t hear anything from the room so I decided to peek my head in and check on you—just to make sure you were sleeping. But. When I opened the door, I found you standing there. Covering your ENTIRE body with lotion. Completely drenched from head-to-toe.
And you had the biggest smiled on your face.
And my god, Olive. You made such a mess.
You were so happy…I remembered hoping you’d always be that way…I hope you’re still happy.”
We finished our meals and left the restaurant arm in arm. Made plans to go shopping the weekend after that.
And then parted ways.
And after a long nap measured in mimosa-induced minutes, I woke up in my bedroom mid-afternoon and I got to thinking, and I got to thinking a lot.
And how sometimes it takes a lot. And most times it can take very little.
That big happiness is undoubtedly important.
Maybe it’s true that the building blocks of it can be measured in mini blisses along the way.
Birthday brunches. Lingerie. And lots of lotion too.
And then I thought.
About my younger sister. Who as a baby, would spend almost every day eating Cheetos on the couch. Because no greater euphoria seemed to exist anywhere else.
And then I thought about Leah.
And that one weekend in May 2014. When we were so overwhelmed. So stressed out. So incapable of partaking in real life. That we jumped in the car on a Saturday morning.
And drove straight to >>>> Cape Cod.
Just to find our goddamn place in the sun.
For only a few hours.
And then we turned around and drove all the way back.
It was really worth it.
And that made me think about Krissy.
And how just one month after my Cape Code escapade.
We overtook a bar called Automatic Slims in the West Village.
Because we were in the mood for our music.
And a place that would allow us to have all of it.
Making me realize that:
Whether I was karaoking in Alicante, Spain at just 20 years old.
Wearing my favorite dress as a batshit baby:
Or building a puzzle as a semi-grown adult with good people on a Friday night:
Happiness is very much a goal.
Better treated as a journey.
And even more so.
I’m not happy every day.
I really am.
And I think you are too.
It’s because we invest in mini blisses that take us to major places.
Birthday brunches that lead to reconciled relationships.
Ridiculous road trips that lead to an impeccable cure.
Puzzles pieces that build friendships you just don’t forget.
It’s because we admit the hard times. Make the good ones the majority. And can’t remember what it’s like to live any other way.
Living that way?
Is a good habit to have.
It’s the best.
So go ahead.
Do something scandalous.
Go to brunch.
Take a trip.
Eat some Cheetos.
And make it the norm.
Because if you can stick to the habit of keeping things happy.
I can promise you that.
Without a doubt.
It all work out for the best.