Waiting on the Upper West Side
This was my office today.
It wasn’t supposed to be. It was supposed to be a very different day.
First, I was supposed to hit it early and get a bunch of work done before I left at 7am to cook for a client. When I woke up at 5:30, I was pretty tired. I had a text message from a friend who wanted to hang out a bit after breakfast, at 8am. So, I shifted, because I was tired and because, well, connection and coffee with a friend.
Then my friend had a client that I wanted to meet. This client had only heard about me from my friend, but had referred me and I ended up booking a client. So, I wanted to meet her, give her some food and thank her for the blind referral.
I finally got out of the house and stopped to grab a bite at the corner cafe, where I got a kale ricotta croissant. There was nowhere to sit, so I decided to just get grab a train and head to work. I walked around the corner to the Colombian bakery. I ordered extra empanadas and an iced coffee so my total would be over the ten dollar credit card minimum only to find, as I was paying, that their credit card machine was down. Luckily, I had cash.
I had a bag full of pastries and a coffee with a lot less cash in my pocket, but I figured I’d have food for tonight or for tomorrow morning. Probably the Universe preparing me.
Missed the train by 20 seconds only to victoriously see, another, practically empty train behind it. Out of service. So, I waited.
Second train came quickly and I got a seat. Score!
Met the doorman at my client’s building with a smile, explaining that I’m the Jackson’s chef. Blank stare. Not a doorman I’ve met before. Usually they just wave me in. We both tried calling the client. She’d already emailed me that I’d only see her husband today, cause she had a work outing. Phone went straight to voicemail. I smiled and reassured the doorman that I’d walk down the street, sit at Starbucks and be back when she called in. I could have forced the issue. I saw that moment of doubt in his eyes. He was just doing his job and who am I to make that more difficult?
Three hours later, at Starbucks, amongst the homeless teenagers, I texted my client and told her to let me know when we should reschedule. I’d completed a food order for tomorrow’s client, watched a marketing class on CreateLive, created a meal plan for another client and posted about Self-Care for my online anxiety and depression course.
I decided to walk, cause, you know, 10,000 steps. I stopped at the Best Buy at Columbus Circle, grabbed chickpea pasta on sale at Whole Foods. I decided to walk another ten blocks to catch the most direct train. Cause, well, 10,000 steps. I remembered that I still needed to throw something together for someone in my building. So I stopped at a local market to see if bacon was on sale. It wasn’t.
Kept walking. Remembered that while I’d put the order together for tomorrow’s client, I hadn’t actually ordered it. So, I stopped at another Starbuck’s and stole wifi and used my client’s Amex to order her food for her.
Caught the train, got a seat, then realized I was headed in the wrong direction. Got off, switched directions and got a seat on the uptown train. Score!
Got to my neighborhood. Sprinkling. I decided to stop and grab a bottle of wine. Harder rain. Stopped at my regular market where I knew bacon was on sale, passed up the sad looking romaine and headed to the green grocer’s. The skies opened up and all of the sudden I was drenched and my paper Whole Foods bag was threatening to dump my wine on the cement.
I ducked into a neighborhood cafe, ordered a glass of wine, dried myself as best I could with the extra napkins the waitress brought me and pulled out my trusty and much loved new Mac. Here I sit writing.
This is the second time in two months that I’ve been caught it in a downpour. Both times I’ve been struck by how lucky I am that all I have to do is get home, peel off my wet clothes, change into something comfy and go about my day. I don’t have to worry that my socks and shoes are wet and now I’ll probably get a blister, which could lead to an infection and since I have blood glucose issues, could be hazardous to my health.
Each time I’ve worried that my fancy Osprey messenger bag won’t actually keep my pricey computer dry.
I don’t have to worry that all my belongings are soaked and who knows how long it will take them to dry. How would I even get them all dry if I didn’t have a home?
Both times I have thanked goddess that I’m not homeless. I have choices. I have options.
Today it struck me that while my day was discouraging, a little frustrating and mostly annoying, it was a day of privilege.
I am a bi, woman of color. Some may argue that I can’t know true privilege. I argue that absolutely every part of my day today reeked of privilege. At every point of my day I had more than one choice. I think that may be the true marker of privilege.
Choices, options, are privilege in a way that having a big house and a fat bank account can’t know.
I am extremely grateful for my life. It’s not always easy and I don’t always do it pretty, but I do it me. That is extreme privilege.
I have other markers, more socially expectred markers, of privilege. I am a private school baby. I have an education that few in our country, or anywhere, get. I grew up with certain expectations for my life. When I stepped off that path, it was because I chose it, not because I had to.
All the mistakes, all the diversions, I chose. I made mistakes, of course, but nothing was just shitty luck or a system that didn’t support my dreams or efforts. It was all me, baby.
Some days my life sucks. Just like everyone’s life sometimes sucks. Some days I don’t want to get out of bed. Some days I am so tired of being tired and so tired of everything being so hard.
Then, I have a day like today, where I could have ended up with one of those attitudes. It could have been a why-me-kinda-day. Today, I excercised the power to choose my attitude. Today it wasn’t hard.
Some days the anxiety is too big. Some days the PTSD kicks me in the butt. Some days those things start to feel big, but I can make different choices. Some days I can’t.
Today was a day where I got to chose whether the obstacles were going to knock me on my ass or lead me to happily walk through the rain.
That is privilege.
Oh, and I’m at 10,164 steps. Score!