We don’t get to pick when we have a moment of clarity, it just happens, and dammit it all if mine didn’t happen at a McDonald’s at 8:30 PM on a Wednesday.
I was sitting at one of those tables with the floating attached chairs that, as a kid, seemed to work because only magic made it possible. I had a Dr. Pepper in a paper cup in my hand, the cold condensation on the outside of it mirrored the drying rain drops on my coat sleeve, and I was the only customer in this building. Behind the counter worked a variety of young people, teens and early twenty somethings that probably didn’t have a clue as to what the Northridge earthquake was or Saved by the Bell.
The woman who rung me up was very pregnant and her broomstick of a teenage boy co-worker zipped behind the counter getting whatever the hell McDonald’s calls their shakes.
There was nothing special about this moment.
This moment was nothing to note in the vast tapestry that is my life, and no, I am not Mickey Mouse. It was the four hours it took for me to get to this place from my last contract job, which took me three hours to get to even after leaving at 5:30AM.
And for some reason, McDonald’s was going to be a special place for me. I rarely even come to this place except for when I am on a road trip, as we always get an egg McMuffin and coffee (A tradition that shall never die). Even as I drove home, and battled traffic and the crazy loud and scary voice that Wayz uses, I just wanted to be here for some reason.
As I waited for my food, it just hit me.
My mind was still. My body felt calm, as if I was sitting in an invisible stream that was coasting all around me. I hadn’t done mushrooms or anything, at least as far as I know, but in this moment nothing could bother me. Nothing reached me.
Nothing happened, and it was wonderful.
To say I’ve never felt this before would be wrong, I have but it’s just been so long I couldn’t remember, but the act of nothing was amazing. I just sat in this empty restaurant on a rainy night and thought of nothing, I just experienced the moment.
Stillness isn’t something that happens to me often, even when I am desperately trying to have it happen. Before writing or anything I just haven’t been able to be in the moment. There was always something pulling me out of it be it crap that had nothing to do with me or my own bullshit.
Yet, now, in this place of all places, I have this moment of stillness and I have to have it with Ronald McfreakingDonald staring at me with a big smile from his bench outside.
I think what really triggered this to happen was the fact that I didn’t have a good reason for not seeing my kid today. I lost visitation rights because of my commute, which is a waste of time because I have to drive. During my 7 hours of driving I did nothing of note except rant into my iPhone. I wasn’t on a business trip or accomplishing something amazing, I was stuck on the 101 listening to some podcasts.
But I didn’t see her smile today, and that kills me.
And that is why I had this moment of nothing, me thinks, so that way I get to appreciate the ones that actually matter.