It's been a rough week, to say the very least.
Tonight, I decided to walk to First Friday on Tennyson. For those of you who aren't familiar, it's one of 6 main art walks held throughout Denver on the first Friday of every month. Sometimes with food, sometimes with music, always with cool art. I pictured the night in my mind: I'd get there early, catch happy hour at a bar, browse some shops, maybe see some artwork. Ideally I would've loved some company but it was one of those nights where everyone had plans (what was it, Friday night or something?). I embarked on my journey alone, determined to have some good solo time.
I approach Tennyson and look up happy hours on my phone like a good, proactive millennial. West End Tap House is on the list. I pause and think back to a memory during summer of last year, where I went to First Friday with a friend and walked into West End. I was not intending to run into a guy I had been dating for nearly 2 months...on a date with someone else. It was pretty devastating for me. But I had worked through it and had found a much better relationship afterwards, so I figured it was time for a redemption trip for some new memories. Well, it was fairly packed. A waitress told me "sit anywhere you'd like!" and so I navigated to a spot at the end of a picnic table outside. People were chatting around me, almost wary of the lone girl at the end of the table; like the desire to go somewhere solo was a disease they didn't want to catch. I shuffled through apps on my phone.
Unfortunately the people were more aware of me than the waitresses. 15 minutes later, after what felt like an eternity of eye contact and solid awkwardness but no interaction, I decided to leave. On my way out, the same waitress who directed me to find a seat anywhere also made way for me to leave. I told her that no one had come and helped me, and she tried to figure out where I was sitting. I told her, and she apologized, and then I said "it's okay, I'm just going to go somewhere else" and walked off. I was almost in tears. Startled by this reaction, I tried to figure out why it was so emotional for me.
Because I was ignored and forgotten. Insert old, familiar stories: I am unremarkable, I am forgettable, I am not worthy of time and attention. I don't belong here, and everyone knows.
It always bothers me when bar staff or servers don't take notice of me when I've been standing/sitting there for a bit. It doesn't happen extremely often but in a busy bar, I feel like I am the last to get noticed. I'm unassuming, my voice blends into the background, and I look like a person who can wait for 50 other people to be helped ahead of me. I resent this a lot. At 30, I'm still working on how to handle this.
So I nearly cried as I walked a couple of shops down to another bar. Thankfully I had a better experience there with prompt and friendly service. But as I was walking home tonight it hit me again, and what was even worse was that the person I would call to talk these kinds of things out with is no longer available to me. I am alone. I remain forgotten.
Sometimes, we're just in the thick of it. It's dark, it's messy, and there's not much ahead that we can see. I don't have a story yet of "oh, this was really awful but then this wonderful thing happened and it all worked out!". In the midst of this bleakness I have to hang on to tiny moments, like the kindness of a bartender or a smile from a stranger or the warmth of the fall sunshine. The heartiness of chili paired with elbow noodles and the sweetness of red wine from a friend. Tiny tethers pulling me to life and meaning, one moment at a time.
This moment, I am finishing typing out this post to either someone or no one. But I am okay, in this moment. And I hang on to that.