Written at 4pm in Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport waiting for my flight back home.
Well, day 2 and 3 in Fort Lauderdale, and this time when it comes to my delay, I was more busy dying than I was living. To be honest the days themselves weren’t that bad. But the after effects leave a bitter taste in my mouth and I am none too proud of how I’ve spent my time. In relation to goals, plans, and priorities, I fell completely by the wayside. And for what. In pursuit of temporary fleeting comforts and indulgences.
We begin with the night of the 18th, end of Day 1. I can’t sleep. Thinking too much of plans and schedules and as the night goes on, my mind wanders to thoughts I’m better off pushing back til daytime. Why is it that the night brings up so many of our fears and insecurities. What is it about the night that I love and live for and thrive in that, given the chance, it would turn on me and punish me with past memories, past hurts, future worries. To stave off the impending panic I go online in search of movies. I remember last week in Massachusetts I caught a bit of the animated film ‘Book of Life’ and it looked interesting. So at 3am I begin ‘Book of Life’. It will run for about two hours, and I am supposed to be getting up at 6am.
This obviously does not happen. In fact I do not wake until 9am, on my own accord. I have missed my morning exercise on Tuesday and breakfast at the hotel has already finished as well. I am left with naught but some of the cookies I took courtesy of the hotel lobby the day before when checking in. I get up and prepare for my day and check my emails. Apparently the store I visited the day before has asked for an additional visit today, and my fatal mistake was letting them know my schedule. They know I am available and demand of me like it is their right. Maybe it is, I’m not sure. I don’t really know how to classify my position in the company anymore. I am no longer a consultant, I’m off the front line and part of the bigger corporate machine running in the back. In some ways I believe I am supposed to be higher than them but if the nature of my position is to be their support, perhaps I am nothing but their lackey, a glorified IT guy whose purpose is to continually coddle and babysit and hand-hold them through all of the new changes. I find my patience recently has dramatically decreased. When the program first started I understood that the nature of my position was to coach teams with the new systems. I knew the stores I was visiting were just starting the new system and so would need my help and guidance to navigate the changes. But it has been two months. It is unbearably irritating and grating to walk into a store of people who have still yet to touch the new program. That to me is unacceptable. It is unprofessional and shows a disregard for any proper work etiquette. I do not want to reward this behavior with the same full thorough walkthrough I provided in the beginning. The nature of this, and next, month’s visits are supposed to be to review and strengthen an already existing grasp of the system, no matter how weak. It just must already be there. This frustrating and unforeseen obstacle, compounded by the extra store visit, pushes back my schedule by three hours. I find myself lacking the time and energy to commit to the afternoon session in the fitness center. Yet, for the sake of my happiness and self-indulgence, I still go to Catfish Dewey’s for their AYCE specials.
That night I opt for the AYCE snow crab legs. It comes with two sides and with a variety of choices like steamed broccoli, coleslaw, corn, collard greens, string beans, and the like, I shamefully go for mac and cheese and hush puppies. In what I perceive to be a futile attempt at balance, I do not go for some beers and instead drink unsweetened iced tea. How reasonable. The mac and cheese is incredibly decadent, with thick al dente noodles and that rich baked cheesiness. The hush puppies are light, fluffy, crisp and pair perfectly dipped into the melted butter that accompany my crab legs. The crab legs are brought out fresh from the steamer, warm and bursting with flavor and juices. They are clean and fresh and the flesh slips readily out of the shell. I pride myself in how expertly I can extract whole legs with no breaks cleanly from the shell. I alternate between pure sweet crab and dipping into the luxurious melted butter. Again, at the sake of some long term goals and benefits, I have proven how good I am at answering my needs and wants to be happy in the moment. For truly, in the moments of my meal, I was enjoying each cluster of legs as they came out of the kitchen. I feast for a good hour and a half, until the flesh, originally salty-sweet and complicated in its taste, is nothing more than soft salty flesh, lacking of any pleasure. Still in the moment I have no regrets as I have eaten to my heart’s content and stopped at the precise moment that the routine of cracking the legs becomes more burden than Zen. I at least have made sure to stop at the peak of enjoyment. I return to my hotel room and still there is the opportunity to exercise, as the fitness center is 24 hours. But I am full of crab and am enjoying the lull of a food coma. Amazon Prime recommends some great classic Stephen Chow films, and I oblige. It is 2am by the time I fall asleep, and yet still I believe that my day of indulgence will be reconciled with my 6am wake up Wednesday to visit the fitness center, avail myself of a warm breakfast, and then enjoy a movie before my flight.
Nope. I wake at 10am to the persistent knocking of the housekeeping. No fitness center. No breakfast. Well, let’s be honest here. No breakfast because they stopped serving. No fitness center because my movie is at 11:30. Now here’s the situation: the fitness center is still there, still open, and as a Gold status member I have a late checkout for 2pm. Plenty of time to exercise, shower, leave the hotel, and arrive at the airport with time to spare. The option was there. I just…didn’t take it. I brush my teeth, pack, and sans shower, head out to catch my movie because a morning movie reminds me of the freedom I used to have and it makes me feel good. But I feel groggy and slow and I cannot wait to get home to take a long shower. Until then, I arrive at the movie theatre and am pleased to find that no one wants to watch The Shallows a month into its run at 11:30am on a Wednesday in Fort Lauderdale. I’ve hit the jackpot of movie watching experiences. For an hour and a half I enjoy Blake Lively’s performance, though ‘single woman seeking adrenaline on her own’ rings a bit too true to Beautiful and I am reminded, watching her struggles and how she obliviously walked into her own danger, of the life that Beautiful wanted that I could not condone nor join her for. Still it is enjoyable and not too tiredly clichéd and I have a sweet iced tea and shrimp carbonara flatbread to pair with it. The AMC was a dine-in. With some extra time to spare I wander about the mall, catching some Pokemon and visiting a few stops before heading back to the airport to return the rental car and await my flight.
I have been waiting at the airport now for about an hour, and my flight is about to board. And with the end of this trip I have to realize…I’ve done nothing, accomplished nothing, followed through with nothing. The self-indulgence has to end. The pursuit of momentary pleasures needs to give way to more structured long-term goals and priorities. With tremendous effort and growth, one day I hope to not just be a single, lonely, heartbroken man. And when that day comes, I want to be better than the man I am today. There must come a time in every person’s life when they realize the horizon is further than just what their eyes can see. I know I am an expert now of personal indulgences and self-care. If I want to treat myself there’s no doubt in my mind no matter where I am or what I am doing I will find a way. But what do I have to show for it. How am I better today than I was on Monday. How have I grown or improved. If anything, I’ve taken a few steps backwards. I am fuller, bigger, and the truth of the matter is my past behavior of self-indulgence has now left me with feelings of disappointment and regret. I must be better than this. The question I ask myself is, how have I made myself better? Do I know more than I used to? Am I more experienced, worldly, healthy in mind or body? There is a recovery stage, to be sure, after a breakup. I need to lick my wounds and slowly learn to get up. But I think I am past that stage now. I know I haven’t been able yet to fully comprehend and process the events and my emotions but I can do that along the way, on my road to betterment. The truth of the matter is the best thing I’ve done for myself long run so far has been starting this blog, and even then, I could devote more time to it. I will. I will be better. Not for her. Not for anyone else. Not for any future. But for me.
Day 22 and Day 23
Man: 17 Loneliness: 6
P.S. After a bunch of complications I am finally on the flight home, posting this from on-board WiFi…AT 11PM! Supplemental will explain the madness that ensued.