Last night, I “bartended” for a client event at work. And by “bartended” I mean I:
- Only served beer and wine. There were no mixed drinks to be had (thank goodness).
- Had someone else uncork the bottles of wine. Good thing too, because with my luck, most of the corks would have gotten stuck in the bottles.
- Looked blankly at a very sweet lady who asked for a drink that was non-alcoholic and did not include high fructose corn syrup. After a moment’s pause, I said, “I’m not sure we have that. Would you like a Minute Maid?” See, in my mind, Minute Maid must be better than Coke, Mountain Dew or the other options I had available to me. When she saw that it only included 3 percent fruit juice, she lost interest. So I gave her water. From a plastic bottle. Served in plastic cup. She looked like she was going to have a heart attack. She proceeded to explain to me that high fructose corn syrup is what’s really wrong with our society, that and the fact that we use too many plastic bottles and cups. I’m pretty sure she thought I was an actual bartender and that I was going to take these learnings to my next event. Not so much.
- Struggled desperately trying to use tongs to grab slippery (duh) pieces of ice and put them in cups. Finally, I just dunked the cups directly in the ice bucket. I had drinks to serve, damn it! Okay. I’ll be honest. I had drinks to serve for like an hour. For like 15 guests – tops. Don’t let me mislead you. This should not have been a hard task for me. Strangely, it slightly stressed me out.
- Overfilled glasses of wine. Apparently you are supposed to get like four to five glasses of wine out of each bottle. Not when Catherine’s bartending! I like my guests happy (and tipsy).
- Stood, incredibly bored in between serving drinks, and took in my surroundings. The twinkling lights. The deep sweet smell of the rose, hydrangea and carnation centerpieces. The incredible amount of heat three little votive candles put out. Signs on the walls that I’ve never noticed – and I have been working in this same building for almost five years. And I realized that I had forgotten about the swans.
So that brings me to the purpose of this post. I realized last night that I had forgotten about the swans. What swans, you ask?
A few years ago, when my ex fiancée and I were still together, it was a lovely spring day and my ex turned to me and said, “So, those swans are pretty awesome, huh?”
“What swans?” I asked. I had no idea what in the world he was talking about.
“The swans on the way to work!” he exclaimed.
I still had no idea what he was talking about. After discussing this with him further, my ex revealed to me that on my route to work, I drove by a pond. In this pond, there were at least half a dozen swans, swimming and frolicking. All within easy view of the road. The same road that I had travelled every single day for two years. Yet I never once noticed the pond, let alone the swans.
In my defense, obviously the swans aren’t there year-round. But seriously, who drives by SWANS in the middle of CHESTER and does not notice? What other beautiful things in my day-to-day surroundings was I missing?
The very next day, I slowly drove by the swans. And there they were, clear as day. Clear to anyone who had their eyes open, that is. And I vowed, from that point forward, to keep my eyes open. To appreciate what I had in my life.
I was reminded of my swan experience right after the break up. My ex and I lived together for weeks after it was over, as I was looking for a new place to live. During this time, I absolutely knew it was over. The wedding had been cancelled. Yet, I couldn’t let go. And I chose to live in denial.
The end of my relationship came so fast, I was reeling for weeks. It was all pretty hard to believe. And, I felt cheated. Cheated because I couldn’t “properly” break up with my ex, knowing weeks in advance that the end was near. If I’d had the luxury of those weeks, I could have relished every last moment.
So, for the two or so weeks until I moved out, my ex and I spent time together. We watched TV. We held hands. We cooked dinner together. We laughed. We talked in ways that we hadn’t talked in years, maybe ever. In those few weeks, sad as it is, I finally took the time to enjoy those little aspects of being with someone that I had taken for granted. I’d had my eyes closed – like with the swans – to the wonderful things in my relationship.
This is not to say that those last two weeks were wonderful. Most nights, we cried together, because we both knew it was over. We fought many times. I screamed at him for hurting me; I threw things at him (and I didn’t always miss). But, there were really good moments in those last days and weeks – moments I’m not sure were entirely healthy, but moments I also don’t regret.
And last night, during my one-time bartending gig, I had a moment of clarity. A moment of no cell phones, no TV, no Internet, no blog entries to write, nothing. Just me and my thoughts.
I noticed things I hadn’t really noticed before. I saw things that I haven’t seen in five years working in the very same building (yet they were always there). I felt the heat of the candles and smelled the flowers, almost like it was the first time I had experienced such things. I realized (actually I remembered, because I’ve realized this before and had forgotten) that swans are all around you, you just have to know to look for them.
I don’t want to be overly dramatic, but if you are lucky enough to have someone who loves you, please enjoy it. You never know when that love will be gone, and you will regret (as I did) not enjoying every single moment. If you are walking through life with your eyes half closed, OPEN YOUR EYES. Look for swans. Smell the flowers. Really feel his/her hug. Tell your lover/mother/father/brother/sister/best friend/whatever that you love them. Pay attention. You only get one life, and if you aren’t properly living and experiencing yours, you only have yourself to blame.
Readers, are you paying attention to the swans in your life? Have you ever had an experience like this? I’d love to hear about it.