Friday, August 19, 2016

Sonia Saves the Night

For eight years, college through the age of 27, I was one hell of a waitress. Sometimes it was my full-time gig; other times I used it to supplement my income while freelance writing.

One of my favorite places to work was a big, purple windmill near my parents' house, where they served country cookin' and Greek food, diner-style. The waitstaff was mostly rural and white; the kitchen guys were all Mexican and lived in a single house across the street, sending money back to their families.

I preferred the kitchen guys, even though they flirted with me. It wasn't entirely unwelcome at the time, and they stayed on the other side of the line or kept a respectful distance.

The restaurant never had enough help, which meant more tips for me. I didn't mind. I'd have six to ten tables in a shift, at least one of them an 8-top. It's where I built my multi-tasking skills (a great asset in the nonprofit world). It's also the origin story of the anxiety dream that still haunts me.

When you're running around trying to keep 30+ hungry people content and well-fed, it can get a bit hectic. When you're a pleaser like me, and genuinely want to keep everyone happy, too, it can be an impossible task.

To this day I have dreams that harken back to that time, with additional dream-like elements like the restaurant is on the side of a mountain (I can't get to the table at the top) or I have one table that's outside, but all the doors are locked. Other obstacles pop up along the way - I don't have the right change, the kitchen is out of a particular food or I'm stuck in slow motion.

I have these dreams when my anxiety is piqued. They've been rare since I quit smoking, but I had a few cigarettes Monday night, so I had the dream again. This time, there was a Sonia-related twist.

It was a typical restaurant-dream setting: a sprawling restaurant the size of the wing of a mall, a disgruntled white dude with a mullet who was insistent that I give him $18 cash back from his debit card (no one does this), $15 for him and $3 for his wife. The wife apologized for his rudeness. I left to figure out a way to get cash back and make sure they had the right change.

The usual obstacles came up: I squeezed through the first room, crowded with bodies both seated and walking around, so tight I could barely move through them. Other tables tried to wave me down along the way. I found the cash register, but it was empty.

I squeezed through another room, equally crowded, only to find Sonia, also in a waitstaff apron, with a black check book full of cash. As she counted out the money I needed, I woke up. I didn't even need to get back to the rude guy; the anxiety had dissipated. It was the first time the dream ever ended with a solution before I opened my eyes.

Sonia is good for me. Being partnered is good for me. And because this is the first time in my life I've lived with a partner, it's still novel to wake up from dreams (not to mention dreams in which my partner saved the day) to see her lying next to me.

It's Friday of my first week blogging about gay relationships and happiness, and I'm grateful. Now, if I could only figure out how to get a follower or two...

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