In the Streets

Not long ago I saw a cabaret show, and my favorite part occurred when the singer put down the microphone and picked up a book, from which a poem was read.

“There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk”

 

Chapter One

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost …. I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter Two
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend that I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in this same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter Three
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
see it is there.
I still fall in … it’s a habit … but, my eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter Four
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter Five
I walk down another street.

It’s probably obvious to you, but the author of the poem is trying to convey that we’re destined to keep making the same mistakes until we change something in our routine. I’ve changed states and jobs and clothes, but it never did me much good – I’d still wind up in a hole, wake up to find too little in my bank account, my cell phone bill hadn’t been paid, I was out of disposable razors – the sort of things that can make a person crumble if it’s too early in the morning.

It wasn’t until I changed my spiritual state that I saw real results – when I woke up to how selfish I was, and how empty things would always be without a huge God to fill that space, I felt myself come back to life. I chose new streets. I made less mistakes, or I recovered faster from them. When I made God my source, I saw Him quickly transform my life from good to amazing, and from cool to exciting. And I tell myself I’ll never forget that, but it never helps to be reminded of such a thing.

“Would you like to join us for breakfast?” my colleague asked. He kept his eyes on his computer screen. I waited for him to look up, but he didn’t so I went ahead and replied, “Eh, maybe.” He looked up at me and said, “I think you should.” I said I’d mull over it during the weekend, thanked him for the invitation, and walked away. My pulse had quickened. That happens when you’re caught off-guard. That happens when you’re invited to dine with A Star.

I didn’t mention his invitation when Monday rolled around. I went ahead with my work like usual, and my work almost always involves pestering someone for something until I get it – and I always get it. The colleague snuck out the back door while I was on the phone, and managed to escape before I could ask him to sign documents that were way past due. I sent him an email to remind him that I needed his signature before they could be mailed out and he replied with “Bring them to breakfast tomorrow.”

That’s the way he is. You think he’s forgotten something, when he’s really miles ahead of you – and for whatever reason, fixated on bringing you to breakfast with him. I went home and called my sister who’s in college, and who knows more about The Star than I do. She was so excited for me, and wanted to me to dress trendy, but keep in mind that it was a business meeting. How she knows all of this I don’t know, but I listened to her advice.

The Star is quite famous, more than a household name. The Star is on tv. The Star is in magazines. The Star requests to sit in the very back of restaurants when she visits them, and I happen to know this because before I was sitting across from her having intimate breakfast chats, I was her waitress.

It was three years ago, I think. I had just finished the play that I thought would make me famous. The production was extended three times and despite support from numerous backers, it wasn’t given the chance to play to a broader house like we all felt it should have been. So I soon found myself depressed and serving tables to pay my rent at a place called Cafe Bari.

Cafe Bari was and still is a great restaurant down in Soho, the fancy-shmancy shopping area in New York City. You can find good food, good music, and above all else, Bari himself when you visit. You’ll have no trouble finding him – he’s the handsome Middle Eastern man ordering an appletini from the bar. Usually while the sun is still out. I have nothing but respect for him – he built the place from the ground-up, raised really nice kids who still run it for him, and because of that, I had a job where I worked with really great people at one of the lowest points in my life. Sure, Bari was particular and a bit of a micro-manager at times, but it’s forgivable.

One day, The Star came in. The host tried getting her to sit at a table near the stairs, but she ignored him and walked to a huge booth in the back, even though she only had one other person with her. I was supposed to be her waitress, but after I dropped off water and she didn’t say thank you I felt like a worm. I was trying to be like her, famous and beautiful and known for breaking the mold, but I was failing at that. So I gave the table to my friend who was more than happy to sashay back and forth with plates of french fries. She wanted to be left alone, but my friend pointed her out to everyone there. I plopped my butt in the window sill and watched her talk excitedly with her hands. She still does this.

Bari came upstairs and I stood up immediately. Sitting in the windowsill wasn’t allowed. He had this great big smile on his face and he said to me, “Go over and invite her.” I looked at him confused and such, and he repeated himself. “What?”

“Go over to her and say ‘Cafe Bari invites you’,” Bari said again.

“What do you mean invite her?” I asked him. “She’s already here.” But to Bari, an invitation would let her know she was welcome to come back at any time and that we were paying for her meal. Each time he said it he slightly bowed his head and his fingers rolled. It was ridiculous.

Bari insisted that someone do this, so we nominated our bus boy who barely spoke English to be the grand messenger. With his back to us we saw him pick up a dirty plate and then pause for a moment. The Star cocked her head to the side, and the bus boy came back to the kitchen with a red face. I couldn’t hold my laughter in. Bari didn’t see what was so funny.

On my way to meet The Star l I passed by the cafe where I used to work. I looked inside of the big windows for my friends, but didn’t recognize any of the faces that looked back. I was first to the spot where we were having breakfast, so I went downstairs and made sure my teeth and hair looked good. When I came up, the colleague and The Star were sitting on the far-side of the room. I walked over, shook hands with her, and she asked if we met at a gala last year. “No,” I said, smiling and complimenting on her on her outfit. When she returned the favor and gave her approval on my shoulder pads, I knew I had passed the test.

Breakfast was an hour long. We talked business and my colleague rolled down a short list of ways she could launch her next great idea, and I was there to pepper the conversation with witty quips. When the food came my colleague pointed out that I never eat anymore because I’m trying to get skinny for my wedding. I corrected him and said that I’m trying to get skinny because I denied my fiance’ sex for the last three years and the least I can do is have everything in great shape. “I’m a born-again believer,” I told her, “so sex isn’t an option.”

The Star nodded. She understood what I meant, but not really. She could never know that I was her waitress only a few short years ago, that I hit such a low point years prior, and yet here I was giving her advice on how to get better and go further. How far I had come, how serendipitous the series of events in my life had been.The Star has been famous for so long that she has surely forgotten what it’s like to be hungry for your dreams, before you’ve tasted them.

I fumbled for my seat belt inside of the taxi we took back to the office, and thanked my colleague for the invitation. We chatted about The Star being nice and of course, how pretty she is, and then we had a brief moment of silence as we rolled down 4th Avenue. I pulled out my phone and typed a few words on the notepad, which I later used for this blog post.

Walking down a new street, and I am never lost. I am never stuck. I am never down. – And every detour leads somewhere good.

 

Written to: The soundtrack from “Django Unchained”

 

 

 

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