Parked dog at Timportance

The kids used to call Tim Hortons “Timportance”. I’ve always like that.

Being the unemployed recipient of a Tim’s card for Christmas and owing to the fact that I got up at 9:15, I got take-out coffee and a breakfast sandwich to punctuate the dog’s walk this morning. Can I just add a shout out to my small dog’s bladder? Way to adapt to changing definitions of “morning walk.”

There were five tables occupied at the Timmys. The staff were super quick throwing together the food so I didn’t get a good look at the table occupants. And it’s impolite to stare they say, yadayada.

Table one: a man and a woman in animated discussion. Papers strewn on tabletop being shuffled and referred to. Some with letterhead, some without. Some appeared to be reports. She’s smiling; I can’t see his face. Maybe numbers are up? Maybe they’re in the planning stages of their Big Idea? Maybe these are the papers they stole to finally bring down the Company, after a quick coffee break?

Table two: a woman sitting alone, reading. She has a hot beverage cup – maybe it’s a coffee, maybe it’s a Caramel Fudge Hot Chocolate – and is eating a Timbit. She gazes out the window at my parked dog, scans the room and then smiles kindly at me. Her book is called “Stop Eating Your Feelings.”

Table Three: a man by the fire. There are four comfortable looking chairs by the fire-feature and he is by himself in one of them. His phone is held aloft as he is immersed in a video chat. I don’t see earphones but I can’t hear the person on the phone, either. Maybe there are Bluetooth earphones under the man’s hat. I can’t hear him really either so maybe he’s using those earphones that turn your jaw movements into sound. Whatever silent thing is said makes him scowl and he pauses to stretch and to look around but not see anyone. It’s like he’s not really there at all.

Table Four: a man in dirty, worn-out clothes. He’s in layers, mismatched, rumpled, with greasy, hat-head hair. His coffee is done or forgotten. He’s playing a scratch ticket with enviable intensity.

Table Five: two older men. No phones on this table. Two disposable hot beverage cups and two sets of old hands. They hold eye contact while they talk. There doesn’t seem to be any tension between them, but also no expansive, heavily-gestured, shoot-the-shit energy. Two older men in companionable conversation. Past co-workers? Old friends? Ex-husband and widower of the same long gone woman?

And me. Me at the counter at 10AM getting breakfast to go. With my warm winter coat and cute pink hat to hide my bed-head. My adorable little dog waiting patiently outside. Smiling, looking at my phone, saying thank-you. Does the woman with the book wonder if I feel bad to be eating breakfast so late? Because I do, I feel guilty for sleeping in until 9:15. I have no routine and it’s overcast so I slept. Does she wonder if I eat out all the time? I don’t – I’m not working and eating out makes me feel guilty apart from this because I have a Tim’s card. I think I must look confident and put together on the outside most of the time but really I’m at a loss.

I didn’t go to Europe to find myself. I did go in part because I got married during University so I never did the run away to Europe thing. I did it like a middle-aged person – I went to lose myself. And I was famously successful. But now I need to pay bills and I can’t look for a career-type job because I want to start my Masters in the Autumn. And having been weightlessly nothing for an extended period of time, I don’t really want to stop. But “Sleeps in if it’s Cloudy” is not a title that pays the bills.

What self am I creating? Big ideas self? Lonely self-improvement self? Not really there at all self? Fervent scratch ticket self? Comfortable chat self?

For now I guess I’ll focus on becoming “makes enough to pay the bills” self and take it from there.

Comforts

That’s the food court at this local mall. There’s free wifi. There’s a McDonald’s but also a Sabadores do Porto. I’m eating Indian because I’ve been craving it since not having it in England. With beer, because it’s a food court that has beer.

I was freezing earlier because it’s raining and cold and the apartment has no heat and my big cardigan got stolen. I was hungry and beyond frustrated over passwords and banking. I was concerned for what’s next. I was grumpy from so many causes that it seemed insurmountable. It was time to seek some comfort.

Walking to the mall while the rain took a break got me some exercise and got me to some heat – both needed comforts. Additionally I saw interesting things, like a Nutella cafe, and engaging curiosity always feels good. Bought a lovely and warm scarf, check, that was on my to do list. Love checking those items off! Next was food which was probably more of a need than a comfort. As a sidenote, I’ve mostly stopped feeling “hungry” anymore. It’s like my body clock has just given up. I discovered today that for some reason my phone didn’t switch over to Portugal time. I was an hour ahead for two days and it didn’t matter at all.

Lists and plans comfort me. I was fine for the last two months of floating around without a plan. It’s exhausting though, and expensive and inefficient. I want to travel for the rest of my life but not aimlessly nor non-stop. And preferably not always alone. The delights in life are heightened by sharing them. I’ll be looking for travel buddies. Don’t worry, I won’t be a stickler for the plan. Changing plans is just as good as having them.

It’s amazing how some warmth and some food can turn everything around. As the Desiderata cautions:

But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.”

I’m coughing and sniffling with a cold so I don’t want to go make friends today. I don’t have the energy to dance or make jokes or even ask very interesting questions. I’m grateful every day for social media and for my friends sending me love and encouragement. It helps get me through until my perspective returns.

Soon I need to find a warm hoodie to snuggle into at the apartment, take some cold meds when I get there and if the internet is back, watch some Netflix. Netflix and… warmth.

I’m home for December to have Christmas with my family and friends and to seek comfort during the first Christmas without visiting my mother.

Then I might hop in my car and brave the United States, if it’s still there. If the vote today doesn’t make things worse. That’d be the bravest adventure yet! If my son can do it then so can I! Although, last we heard he was snowed in at a mountain village. But having a great time! Though entirely without a plan. But with his good friend! I wonder maybe instead of trying to decide if a situation is overall good or not, it’s best to just decide it’s good and then strive to make it even better. Yes. That decides it. I’ll look for a hot chocolate place on the walk home.