A very pleasant Sunday morning. A day shy in the “thirty-days hath September ….” monthly memory click so solidly emblazoned in my mind. This sixth month has thirty days, so that silver “31” handed to me after ordering a crepe must have meant something else. Was I simply the 31st patron/group of the morn to enter? Possibly. Close to 11 a.m. during a rather congenial weather day, thirty other like-minded Blair Countians could have considered the same culinary treat.
I was left alone to contemplate the possibilities. It’s what I do. A mere few solitary feet removed from under the shingle, I sat. Alone.
I sat alone, but wasn’t a solitary soul. Every few minutes, passers-by waved a gracious, “Hello”, with words or a pleasant smile. One was careful to comment, “We used to read newspapers instead of those things.”, as I casually checked my email or strained my already wonky nape to read Facebook posts. Recent high school grads streamed in and out … celebrating their new found freedom from adolescence into adulthood responsibilities and summer transitions into college, military service, or the work-a-day world.
This Creamery is a busy whereabouts most nice days. They have a back outside seating area full of lush, shaded areas in which to sit comfortably among the cool breezes and an inside, upstairs lofty room above the main first floor. Organized, well-oiled, patterned ordering presents itself as one walks through the once old, converted shoe repair store doors. Charming, elite among most buildings in my hometown is this recessed, chandeliered entrance. Kirk and Heather, the owners, have done a corkingly great job over the years maintaining and upgrading this business to include alcohol and a niche menu that draws in clientele year after year.
My “Allegheny Crepe” arrived just in time. The tea – resplendent with one artificial sweetener and one regular sugar – absorbed the sun’s reflection perfectly for the picture moments before. My only regret wasn’t the disappearing kindness of the server who gently asked if there was anything else I needed. It was his necessary removal of the silver “31” I had come to reflect upon during the moments of peaceful semi-privacy. He said, “You won’t regret it.”, when placing my menu choice in front of me. Perhaps it meant nothing? With no one within my emotional purview who would understand my task at hand, I was left with an expectedly delicious crepe in front of me, a perfectly mixed iced tea, one perfectly sunny day … and my thoughts.
January, March, May, July, August, October, and December all have 31 days. This repeated over and over in my brain because of the “Thirty-days …” traditional verse mnemonic. Too pedantic to hold great appeal for the purposes of my imagination. What, possibly, could the universe be telling me through seven months of thirty-one days? I pondered an extension of this as 7×31 = 217. Could 217 be significant in any way? Nah. Again, too blah … even for a numbers goober like me.
Why “31” … if anything at all? For all I knew, this was eventually going to be an exercise in futility. Part way through what WAS a succulent crepe, I looked around for other subjects about which to write. There happened to be a quite fascinating crack in the sidewalk below catching my fancy. Additionally, down the street a few blocks, my friend, Joel, is in the final stages of a fantastic large sculpture I could have considered. People walking by were interesting in their comments as well. Many other fascinations were available, but none as intriguing as darn “31”…
Then, as I placed my fork’s final rest on the edge of the plate, my satisfied appetite leaned back into the iron back of the chair. I closed my eyes facing toward the sunlight flickering through the twittering leaves dangling on two trees partnering with me across the sidewalk. Shaking my head slightly in agreement with my thought, it dawned on me.
I was married in 1990. Thirty-one years ago almost to the day of this post. June 9th, 1990. I am to realize the marriage part of my relationship with my wife will soon be over. We are amicably parting ways. Great friends to the end, we are.
The significance of “31” cannot – and will not – be understated. Sometimes, things such as marriages, run their course and two adults must make that very difficult decision to move on. There is no room for bitterness, strife, anger, disappointment, frustration, or indignation. Yes, there is sadness … of course there is unhappiness. Over half of our years on this earth have been together – experiences together we cannot undo or want to forget. Both of us, if normal life expectancies are in our futures, have the remaining third of our span to live out as we want to … apart from each other. It will wonderfully accommodate new experiences for our individual selves.
My future is bright, to use an overly-used phrase. Your future is, too. Whatever is going on at your table outside one of your favorite restaurants during a beautiful everyday sitting, use it to see whatever you need to see. Find that number to learn more about yourself, a person to talk with over tea, or simply a tree to look through. There are answers somewhere. It may take years – maybe three decades or so – to find what you really need, but hang in there.
I finished a crepe, a tea, and a conversation inside my head. Walking away, I knew that silver “31” served me well just as the fine young man promised when he removed it from my presence. He was right. However, it wasn’t my sadness of its removal. Nor was it his insistence that I wouldn’t regret my lunch option. Sure, the fold-over prosciutto ham and cheese choice was flavorful, but moments after it was finished, sitting alone, … a tired, yet satisfied man in his 50’s – remembering 31 years – doesn’t regret any of it. Choices were made based upon information at the time and I have no time left to be resentful of anything.
Life is certainly a process. A never-ending procedure of mistakes and fixer-uppers. I am forever grateful to live day-to-day … experiencing all it has to offer.
Table 31 to a Tea. Here’s to silver “31”s in your life that may pop up … and may you walk away with no regrets.