understanding

The Unexpected

I don’t know how exactly to be what you expect. We sit opposite each other on stools, staring at fudge, and somehow I don’t fit. Blue jeans and brown boots. My foot tapping, never touching the tiled floor. It’s a frame of mind, I think.

Tourists tap on the glass, pointing towards flavors they want to try. Chewy Praline, Chocolate Vanilla Swirl. But choosing isn’t the hard part, really. They’ve sampled so many, making sure to get their money’s worth. And you and I wait on each one, patiently.

In between paying customers, we pass the time with small talk. Your new haircut. My  single-ness, since I stopped talking to that guy. And all the awkward silence of guessing what I should say next.

But friend, it’s what you say that takes me by surprise. Neither cruel nor comforting. Just…an observation. I open up to you, I guess. Tell you how I spend most of my free-time watching people I don’t know tell me things through computer screens. And how all the best TV shows are made of time-traveling and british men and big blue boxes. And now you truly you notice me.

“You’d never know from how you dress,” you say, “but on the inside, you’re so dorky.”

And I guess I agree with you. I’m not “the type” to wear sneakers and sundresses. I don’t have oversized glasses or unruly hair on purpose. I wear makeup and rings and most of my wardrobe comes from a place with “American” in the title.

But still. I don’t see the point in matching pants and personality. And I don’t think it’s wrong to be misunderstood. In fact, I like that it forces people to look past my latest outfit choice to see what I’m honestly about. I don’t dress like your average dork, but does that make me any less of one?

I don’t fit, and I think that’s all right. I’ve come to accept that my clothes, my book collection, my hair color, and my most cherished song don’t constitute my being. These are things I love, not things I am. So there.

You won’t know from my attire that I’m a bit too shy to share these things in person.  I guess sometimes we hide behind our outsides, afraid to open up. To face the fact that we don’t fit.

But as you and I cut quarter pounds of fudge from the counter, scoop them up, and squeeze them into tiny boxes, I see now. And it makes sense.

The world is full of containers. For keeping people and places and objects and ideas in place. Perhaps though, the only way to enjoy them, to really appreciate their existence, is to empty the box. To break the mold by the miracle of experience.

Everyday we watch this unfold. They take that first bite, braving the uncertain. And after all this time, they travel hundreds of miles, stand in long lines, and leave filled with a new hunger for trying.

All it takes is a taste, so maybe we too can find an appetite for the unexpected.