The blue cup
This blue cup might not look like much but it means a lot to me.
My brother and I were on our way to Rhode Island for a memorial service for our dad. I had come right from church and met my brother, and he wanted to leave his vehicle somewhere convenient, so we made a pit stop at one of his friends’ houses on the way. He introduced me to several people and their dogs and it was like I had known them forever. (I actually had met one of them at our mom’s memorial service a few years before).
They sent us on our way refreshed, and since I had declined a soda, and they didn’t have bottled water and I didn’t have a go-cup, they let me take this blue cup. I kept telling my brother, “I love your friends!” “Your friends are so nice!”
It’s really nothing fancy but it’s a bright spot in my plastic cup collection — we actually do have real glasses in another cabinet but we hardly EVER use them — both literally and figuratively.
My brother’s friends were so warm and welcoming. At that time in my life, it didn’t seem that I met a lot of friendly new people; that anyone I did meet was through my kids’ activities, and that they were already tightly knit with each other and not welcoming outsiders. We were new-ish in our neighborhood and since I didn’t go to the bus stop, I was closed off from that group, too. My work world was shrinking after having been laid off and becoming a contractor.
It was particularly nice to meet my brother’s friends and then to go to Rhode Island where we reminisced with friends and acquaintances from way back — our childhoods — about stuff we didn’t really remember, but the remember-y, familiar feeling of belonging was there.
I went on feeling dark about my circumstances for several more months, until I decided to make some changes in my lifestyle, which basically entailed overhauling my diet and exercise habits and just getting out more.
Today I am creating community again. I remember how I did this with Pasta Night (inviting single moms and their kids for spaghetti or similar dinner every Wednesday), which eventually expanded to include some dads and neighbors and special celebrations like egg coloring, gingerbread house construction, or Valentine card making. That era ended a while back due to my boys’ intense sports schedules.
In order not to live in my own little bubble, which would be so easy to so since I work at home, I decided to participate more in things outside my comfort zone. I joined a barre class and invited others to join with me (two did!). I am going to run/walk a road race (with a friend, today, in about one hour — I’m kind of nervous!). I started an online business and have begun meeting wonderful, uplifting people from all over who share success with me.
The blue cup reminds me to be try new opportunities, and that there are a lot of really nice people out there in the world. I just need to open myself up to meeting them. They may or may not be in my backyard. I wave to everyone in my neighborhood, but at the same time, we like our long driveway and the woods around our house and have put up a fence along one border that abuts a heavily trafficked path. (Being open doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have boundaries.)
The blue cup is also not like the rest, and that’s okay!