I’ve been up since 3:30 AM.
I woke up to use the restroom, glanced at my phone and saw this message. I had to blink a couple of times to make sure it was real, not imagined. Disclaimer: I apologize if the following is hard to read… I wrote it very early in the morning!
I’ve gotten random texts before… but that is so…. whoa.
Needless to say, I’ve been up since.
You see what happened was.. two weeks ago, I was coming home from a not-so-great night out. I actually left early and walked home with my umbrella, in the rain trying to process the remarkably dull evening.
It was pouring outside that night but I chose to walk anyway. I like walking. It was Friday around midnight so the bars were full and the streets were empty. There’s something about walking the empty streets of New York that makes you feel like you have it all to yourself. It’s nice. You should try it. Wherever you are.
I was a few blocks away from home when I saw a dark figure waiting to cross at the light, shivering in the rain with a backpack and no umbrella. In any other situation I would have been alarmed- who is outside alone at this time of night, idle?- but my spidey senses told me that this person could use some help.
I took my earphones out and I came up next to this person and said “I feel like you could use this.” He turned to me and I shared my umbrella with him.
He was wearing a striped shirt and he was wearing glasses. That’s all I saw in the dark. Besides that, I didn’t really get to see what he looked like. Regardless, I feel like it would’ve been rude/mean to stand at the same light and keep the umbrella to myself.
“Oh thank you….” he says.
“You’re not from around here are you?”
“Haha no… I just came off a plane. I’m visiting from Minnesota. I’m here for EDC”
“Ohhh yea EDC!! I love that music. I just hate the crowd. I’ve never been to a music festival and whoa Minnesota!” I think about the one other person I know in Minnesota and mention that to him.
I ask where he’s headed and it turns out he’s going to a friend’s place located just a few minutes from where where I saw him and right near my building. I offer to walk him there with my umbrella.
“You wouldn’t want to be sick for EDC tomorrow….” I explain.
We have a short conversation about random things (I forget exactly what) and before I know it, we’re at his friend’s apartment.
“Ok so… It was nice meeting you.”
“Uhm. Do you have facebook?” He asks me.
“Sure,” I say. Facebook friends? Harmless. OK.
Within seconds we are “friends” on facebook.
He says “Can I give you a hug?”
I shrug. Why not. Totally friendly.
We say our goodbyes and I expect never to see him again.
I log onto facebook before I go to bed when I see that he’s written on my page:
“Heyyy! Nice meeting you and thanks again for sharing the umbrella!! :).” I fall asleep.
The next day I wake up to go about my day and run errands.
I found myself wondering if he got sick from getting soaked in the rain and then I realize I never responded back.
it was my pleasuree! hope you have fun this weekend. go crazy for me, ” I write.
The weekend passes. Luckily we have Monday off because of Memorial Day.
I check facebook that morning and I see a message: “Hey! I know this is last minute..I fly out later this afternoon. Would you like to meet up for lunch???”
Completely caught off guard, I agree and we decide to meet. Since he’s staying right around the corner from me, I offer to go meet him there.
Per usual, I’m early. That day I’m super early (read: half an hour early) because apparently I walk really fast and his friend’s place isn’t as far as I remembered it.
He comes out right when he’s supposed to and we start walking over to Chinatown. No glasses, white linen shirt with sunglasses tucked in. “Oh so that’s what he looks like,” I think to myself. Turns out I have good judgment even when it’s dark and rainy.
We decided on a place I’ve never been to before and eat yummy wontons and soup. We talk about random things: electronic music, Minnesota, dating life in New York, aspirations to move to San Francisco… We talk about everything but what we do for work and the weather. I’m candid and just being my honest self. After all, I’m never going to see this kid again. It feels refreshing and easy.
He pays for the meal (I offered to split) and says with a smile, “You can get the next one.”
He needs to be at the airport at least an hour early so I ask him if there’s anything he wants to do before he goes. Bubble tea is our next stop. I figure out how he’s supposed to get to the airport and I walk him to where he has to go. I even snap a photo of him on the way because he doesn’t believe that the sunglasses he has tucked into his shirt looks good on him. Boom, new profile photo. Quick hug goodbye and off he goes, back to Minnesota.
I check in later to make sure he caught his flight. He did and later that week he tells me he did end up getting sick (I was right). We go our separate ways and continue living our lives.
Two weeks have passed and today, I get that message out of nowhere. I’m not weirded out because of what he said. I’m weirded out because just before I fell asleep last night, I was thinking about how thankful I am for the people who appreciate me for me and then I get this. The other day someone said “Andrea I don’t think you know how special you are” and another friend mentioned, “This is why I love you” and I didn’t believe them. I couldn’t accept the compliment. When a stranger- someone I barely know says something like this text, strangely, suddenly I believe it.
I often walk away feeling foolish, after I say or do something “nice,” especially in New York. Whether it’s a simple greeting, question, gesture, etc. I often question if it was something I should’ve done. I struggle with my ego a lot but I’ve come to realize that I’d rather regret doing it than regret not having done it.
Moral of the story? Be yourself and the right people will love and appreciate you.
If you’re in a relationship- in business and life- where you aren’t being celebrated, and only tolerated for who you are… (Try to) leave if you can. There are people out there who are ready and willing to love and accept you, to learn and grow with you, you just need to be open and be yourself.
And if you’re on the receiving end? Be brave enough to speak your mind. Say what you want to say. Take the time to show your appreciation. Expect nothing in return.
I (almost) always never regret it.
Keep your standards high. Be kind. Do things and surround yourself with people who make you feel alive.
This post is dedicated to RMC, CVS and my sister. You’re all so far away from me (which sucks) but knowing you fills me with so much hope and makes me feel alive. I’m thankful to have you all in my life.
Thank you D for sending this brave, random and honest message. It was nice meeting you.
Off for a run now. I’ll need some endorphins to fuel me for the day ahead.
“What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness,” George Saunders
“Never apologize for having high standards. People who really want to be in your life will rise up to meet them.”