A Gratitude Journal
My carpool picks me up at 7:10 a.m. each morning at the top of Cuba Street. If I can convince myself to crawl out of my warm bed and into the frigid air of my apartment before six a.m., I can make the 6:30 a.m. bus that will take me to the bottom of Cuba Street, and then it’s just a quick 10-minute jaunt to the top. If I wake up after 6 a.m., I will miss the bus, and then I must run/jog/shuffle/skip the two miles to my meeting point. (School starts at 9 a.m. here, but I have a hike to get to my placement).
Even though I get exercise if I don’t catch the bus, I love making it because I get to stop for coffee. Now 98% of coffee shops open after 7 a.m., which means I’m mostly out of luck because there is a coffee shop desert around my carpool pick up point. However, Roberto at Palomino coffee on Cuba Street opens up just a little bit early so that I can get my coffee and still make it to my pick up point on time. He’s pretty much the greatest man alive, and I look forward to stopping there on the mornings that I can.
My day is so much better because I got a free cookie. Thanks Roberto!
Today, I missed the bus by 47 seconds. I had a loooong day yesterday that didn’t get me home until 10:45 p.m., and I knew I would be just as late tonight. Even though it was 7:08 and I was huffing and sweating, I still decided to stop in to get a cup of coffee from Roberto. He inquired after my tardiness, and I gave him a brief synopsis of my past and future 24 hours, stressing that I really needed a cup of his coffee. As he handed me my dreamboat-in-a-cup Flat White, he added a decadent chocolate cookie to the top of my coffee cup before handing it to me. “For you,” he said in his Cuban accent, “to help with your day.”
It’s a few hours later, and I feel like I wish I could unplug after my iPad got completely wiped, and I lost– thankfully not all–of my research over the last month (I know, cue lecture about backing up files). As I was about to sob into the D, O, and H keys on my keyboard, I noticed the cookie sticking out of my backpack. It made me stop and remember that even though this is a tough loss, I am able to reflect, rethink, and rewrite. Roberto’s gesture was a reminder to me that there is heartbreakingly beautiful kindness in the world. And for that I am grateful.
Someone at school put my name in the gratitude/commandments drawing, and I won! Thank you random stranger, now I get to draw an awesome prize on Monday!
It is super cool being “from the future,” as I am 18 hours ahead of Chicago, but it makes communication difficult. There is a small window of time right before I go to bed or right when I wake up that I can catch people in the States to talk to them. I can’t talk during my day because I have to have wifi to Skype or Facetime, and I don’t get home from school in time to talk to people before they tuck in for the night. So during the weekdays, I feel pretty isolated from my friends and family in the U.S., and I suck every last bit of comfort from the imessages and Whatsapp texts I get during the day. It’s weird to think that most of my communication with home is through short conversations sprinkled throughout my cupcakes of days.
You can imagine, therefore, how meaningful mail has been to me. I haven’t given out my mailing address to anyone but my parents, and they sent me a wonderful welcome care package the first week I arrived. I realized quickly that one has to sell one’s car just to be able to pay to ship a package in New Zealand, so I didn’t send on my mailing address to anyone else.
The AMAZING package from Joy.
But somehow, mail has found a way. Our close (and oldest) family friends Kate and Michael sent me a lovely card. And the biggest hug to a soul is that my lovely friend and fellow book club member Joy sent THE most incredible care package ever. I had written a blog post about how miserably cold I’d been in Wellington, and she secretly Facebook messaged my mom asking for my address. She sent me a giant package that has kept me literally and figuratively warm for two weeks now: a blanket, gloves, hand warmers, Nutella, fancy chocolate, and stuff for Halloween and Thanksgiving–the two holidays I will miss while I’m here. I would win a Pulitzer if I was able to able to adequately express how grateful I feel. I guess it makes sense that Joy would bring me so much joy. (PS: Joy, check your mailbox in 6-8 days!)