The Absurd and Amazing Adventures of Cafe Girl: Bitter-Sweet

October 4, 2007


Three months ago, I was introduced to a brand of organic dark chocolate that no one in my pay range should have any business buying.

I remember sharing a bar of this chocolate with my then-room mate. That afternoon, we sat in our living room savouring small bites and relishing the way the flavors burst on our tongues. There were hints of bitter, flashes of spice and the aftertaste of sweet. We were stunned. We've always loved chocolate but this, this, was chocolate we could be in love with.

This memory has lingered with me these few months as I navigate moving my life from Chicago to Los Angeles. I'm mostly struck by how the tastes: bitter, spicy, sweet, mirror so much of what I've been feeling in this new city I must now call home.

I've been bitter. Very much so. It's a sharp, dark feeling, accompanied by a voice that insists, "What's the point? What was the point of uprooting your life to plant yourself in a city where you know no one? You were happy in Chicago, look what you gave up and for what?" And the bitterness seeps out of me and cuts into others. On a bitter day, with one look and one word, I'm able to communicate unequivocally, "I think you are worthless." Funny how stress and change can so quickly bring up the person that years of therapy and prayer have tried to quell.

I've felt spicy. There are days when I'm well-rested, the sky is blue, there's a gentle breeze and I think, "Look, I'm doing it! I'm building a life in a new city. I'm not depressed, I'm not horribly lonely. I can do this." Those are the days I blow dry my hair, put on my make up and walk down the street with the confidence of knowing I'm going to be ok.

And there have been many times of sweetness I've eagerly soaked up. Today, I was hugged by a woman I'd only met briefly. She was so genuinely happy that I'd come to be a part of her bible study group. And for those ten seconds when she and I embraced, I thought, "I feel safe here; I feel loved."

But those are the bursts and flashes; rich and intense. For the most part, life in Los Angeles has been a myraid of bitter-sweet. With every couple I see holding hands, I'm reminded of the sweetness of my Someone and then struck with such sadness he's not here with me. With every dog I see dressed like a human, I laugh at the absurdity then feel a small pang there's no one beside me to laugh with. With every glimpse of clear blue sky, mountain, sunset and ocean, I relish in the pure beauty of God's handiwork and then wish that those whom I love the most could see what I see.

I'm convinced, though, that this tension between joy and sorrow; bitter and sweet is part of Creation. We are designed for this conflict. We are so intricately and marvelously made that we have the capacity to have more than one emotion at once. That's amazing to think about -- not only are we made to feel, we are made to feel wholly, deeply and intensely.

And so, when I wake up tomorrow and it's Friday with the weekend stretching out before me, I'll still feel the thrill of not having to work for two whole days, slightly afraid that I'll be lonely and a little sad my Someone isn't here. But I'll still get out of bed and go on with my day because I know that's exactly how I'm supposed to feel.


Elizabeth said... I am just staulking you, but I loved this post. Am thinking of you often.

Much love and many prayers to you, dear friend.

Emily said...

Janice! It’s good to see a post from you!

I remember feeling very lonely when I first moved to Chicago. I didn’t know anyone in the city and my friends were scattered across the country. The good news is that I made friends and Chicago now feels like my home. I know that LA can become home for you too. I’ll be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers. :-)