I am a planner.
I wasn’t always this way, but life in Charlotte taught me that if you don’t fill out your social schedule, you’ll sit home alone on any day that ends in -y. So, I learned to make plans. At my most frantic, there was a two month waiting period.
(I was informed by two different men that my social schedule was far too daunting and there was no way they could keep up. I explained that they needed to stop being pussies. But that’s a different story for a different time.)
Point is, everything was hyper-planned. Until now.
When you don’t have a full network of people, the only thing you’re able to plan is a trip to the grocery store. And that’s about as fun as rolling naked in a briar patch.
So, I attempt to open myself to the possibilities – and embrace the unexpected.
Like, for example, coconuts in the road.
Yes. Coconuts. Rolling in the street. If one thought on it long enough, there could be an a-ha moment of sorts that, of course, palm trees are everywhere – so, a dropped coconut might, in fact, roll on down the road. (As do fallen palm fronds, which cause all manner of havoc because they’re truly not as light and airy as they look from the comfort of your chaise.)
There are also turtles and armadillos. Shelled and ready for shenanigans, these crazy creatures engage in a real-life Frogger that’s not for the faint of heart; leaving pacifists like me weighing the pros and cons of following suit to help them avoid a Game Over.
And, of course, there are the surprise people.
Bad surprise: catching the unloading of a dead body as I returned from a walk. (My real friends are rolling right now, because they know I don’t do dead.) I blanched, broke out in a cold sweat and sprinted home.
Good surprise: My new friends from the Dominican Republic who speak much better English than I do Spanish – as you might expect from someone who studied French.
But my favorite surprise person popped up on one of my least favorite days.
My parents came to visit and we went to look for a new apartment in a different part of town. (Apartment hunting is my version of hell and I dreaded it from the moment I knew it was time to go.)
The week prior to their arrival, my phone bit the dust and sent me into a spinout of epic proportions. (Just so you know, everything seems far more unmanageable when you’re homesick, confused and in a brand new state. Because, yes, it was JUST a cell phone. Shut up.)
Fast forward to Saturday, new phone in hand. We saw a cute apartment and walked the neighborhood where we found another For Rent sign with a number. After breakfast at a local diner, I stepped outside with said brand new phone to call the realtor when I looked down with shock and horror as my new phone dialed my ex.
I couldn’t process what was happening. How the hell??? Out of all the names in my contact list, how did that fucking thing dial him?!?!?
And, just in time, my brain managed make my finger hit END.
Heart pounding, I text my Best. I’m going to call you and hang up, don’t answer. Then you tell me if my number shows on your missed calls list.
At the same moment we’re lamenting my mistake, a car pulls over. A man jumps out, hands me a rose, gets down on his knee and sings, “You are so beautiful to me . . . “
Wait, what? Is this happening?
First reaction – how fun and sweet!
Second reaction – where is the hidden camera???
Third reaction – this has gone on way too long and it’s getting creepy.
Which he might’ve heard, because he hopped up, hugged me, thanked me for being amazing, got in his car and drove away.
How strange . . .
and lovely . . .
and absolutely unexpected . . .
and completely memorable!!!
Wonderful things can happen when we put ourselves out into the world and release the focus on our screens . . . when we let go of schedules and open to the possibilities.
Some might say when we learn to expect the unexpected. But, I’m not there yet. I mean, I’m still trying to be okay with not having definitive plans for the next two months.
However, I am happy to loosen my grip just a little and let every single day be its own adventure.