Jake Owen and I emptied the dishwasher last night.
Yes, that is how I spend Friday nights at 25 – emptying my dishwasher and dancing to the beat of a song called Beachin’.
That’s how I measure my happiness – whether or not my Friday nights are spent dancing in the kitchen. Maybe it’s something in my bones, maybe it’s the way people used to dance around the fire while their food cooked, but something about my kitchen and a good feeling makes me want to dance and sing and laugh until the corners of my eyes hurt from squinting.
We all have that measurement. The one that, no matter what else is going on around us or in our heads, tells us everything we need to know about our own happiness. For you, maybe it’s whether or not you walk out of Target with a cart full of cleaning supplies and trash bags or a cart full of crop tops and cutoff jeans. Or maybe it’s whether or not you made it out for that weekly run at the hiking trails. Or the number of showers per day you averaged last week.
You know yours and I know mine, and it’s dancing barefoot in the kitchen, getting lost in the music.
I avoided my kitchen for years. Food was my enemy. Because all I wanted was to shrink small and away, back into some corner of the Earth, dancing in the kitchen just didn’t give me joy back then.
Yesterday, though, I walked around feeling the way you do after a boy kisses you goodnight for the first time, in the glow of the buzzing lights outside his house, with the clock itching to strike eleven.
Alive, they call it.
For months, I wrung myself dry with too much work and anxiety and stress. In the last few weeks, I have felt myself budding with more energy and hope and love and patience.
So Friday morning, the culmination of all that cleansing, the walking away from too many things that pulled me down, rose to the surface of me. It bubbled up and out.
And I started thinking about how if you had asked me, six months ago, whether all this was gonna be okay, I would’ve told you no, probably not, not for years. I felt stuck, drowned, waterlogged.
And now, taking life, like a toy, into my hands and twisting it back into position, I feel like breathing, and swimming, and floating.
That’s when my best friend’s text comes in.
“I feel like it’s a ‘you’ thing,” she writes.
She’s known me 12 years, so finding a ‘you’ thing in her days isn’t hard; I find ‘you’ things all the time.
In fact, on Thursday I found myself picturing her mother as I read a chapter in a book about a woman praying in the kitchen. Because when I crack open the front door to my best friend’s house, I always find her mother in the kitchen, and the cross on the wall, and she’s asking, “What can I pray about for you?”
To answer her mother would be to open the floodgates. I cannot answer straightforward questions, because they turn into marks about the life I am heading toward, and whether it’s right, and whether it will be whole and good and satisfying and feel true enough that I won’t wake up in years shaking in my sleep from anxiety that I did this thing all wrong.
So often, I shrug in response. But the text I cannot brush off, because it comes at the exact time I need it to.
“Tell me something good,” it reads.
Truthfully, it’s much longer, a screenshot from some strange girl’s Facebook status about how she and her friend have started each day by sending each other a good sentiment, no complaints.
Years ago, on those days when I avoided the kitchen, and country music, and calories, I wouldn’t have been able to find a good thing in my days. I was looking in all the wrong places.
But now, I know I can answer her. And so I say, “I’m no longer waiting to live the life I want. I’m not, like, waiting for it to start. I’m happy with my apartment and my job, my friends are all growing up doing big, exciting things, my sister is living closer so I can see her if I want to, I’m planning to invest more in friendships that I think got crazy because I was just burned out about life. So it all feels really positive. Even though bad things have happened and will always happen.”
It’s that last part that gets me, because even as I told her, it wasn’t until I said it that I knew it was true. And yet, I’m ready. I hope you find that you are too.
Tell me, tell me something good.