When I was a teenager, and I would go to visit my dad (my parents are divorced), I would frequently get impatient with him because he talked to people wherever we went. If we went to the grocery store, he would talk to the woman next to him about rice, and as we were checking out, he would talk to the cashier about the weather, the specials that day and anything else that crossed his mind.
Recently, my in-laws come over from France, and commented to my husband, that it makes them uncomfortable that I talk to strangers at the train station, grocery store, in restaurants and on the street.
So often people claim that they have become their mothers, but in this case, with my relative’s observation, it occurred to me that I have become increasingly like my dad.
I mentioned earlier in the week that my writing buddy is visiting for a week from Virginia, while my husband is out of town. The two of us went to a hotel to celebrate Easter at a brunch buffet. I made the reservation for eleven, but by ten in the morning we were both hungry and wished we could dig into some of that food.
I called the hotel, but they said they were booked and couldn’t’ get us in early. We decided to head to the hotel, hang out in the lobby and possibly walk around the block. We agreed that something about being near all that food made us feel better than waiting at home.
When we arrived at the hotel, we climbed the curved staircase with wood railings to the second floor where the brunch was set up. There was a man at the top of the stairs assisting guests. I told him that we had reservations at eleven but that we had come early. He said, “Well, you need to check in on the first floor, and it is possible they can seat you now. I’ll take you down to the desk.”
We followed him back downstairs, and he asked my last name. I spelled it for him and then said it. He went to the desk in front of us and told the woman and man sitting there my name and that I had reservations at eleven and could they possibly seat us earlier. The man behind the desk said, “Unfortunately, we are booked.” I said, “No problem at all, we will take a seat in the lobby and wait until our table opens up.”
Before we could walk away from the desk, the man who had met us at the top of the stairs said, “I’ll take you to your table.” I said, “Wow, you know how to pull some strings!” He laughed, and the two of us talked the whole way up the stairs until he handed us off to the hostess.
Later, while I was getting food from the buffet line, I saw the man who got us our table, and he asked me how I liked the food. I said, “It is so beautiful, and it is delicious. The perfect way to celebrate Easter.”
While Joyce and I were eating, the same man came to our table, and I told him I was standing up (instead of seated at our table) because my back hurts when I sit. He told me all about his back injury and asked if I wanted to walk around the buffet and loosen my back up. He said if I did, he would sit down and keep Joyce company. We all laughed really hard.
I talked to about a half-dozen other people while we were enjoying our buffet, and I know it isn’t much, but it made my day brighter. I love talking and interacting with strangers. It is a shame that my schizophrenia keeps me isolated so much of the time because what once made me impatient about my dad, brings me great joy.
Becoming our parents isn’t always as scary as it sounds.