Every once in a while, I try to take a day off to reset— gather my thoughts, write down ideas, and organize my home—that day was today. After spending nearly half the morning of doing just that, but at the same time procrastinating; I realized I accomplished, pretty much nothing.
As the morning progressed, I had no energy and mentally drained. I decided to make myself a strong cup of coffee so I could push and plan out the rest of my free day.
As I made my way into the kitchen, I begin to boil my hot water, for a fresh cup of instant coffee; while rummaging through the cabinets, I realized I had run out of coffee. At this time, I had already covered my morning errands—I was in no mood for a trip to the grocery store.
“No worries,” I thought to myself. I would just run down to my neighbors home and bum a cup of coffee. Asking for coffee wasn’t something out of the ordinary —whenever she is in need for her caffeine fix, or low on coffee, she can count on me for a fresh Cafe Bustelo Espresso coffee.
So, with no hesitation, I headed downstairs and knocked on the door…
“Who is it?” she whispered.
“It’s Jessica.” I wasn’t sure if she was asleep, and I was hoping I didn’t wake her.
She opened the door, smiled, and let me in—insisting that I have a sit at her kitchen table, she pulled out a wicker chair from underneath the table, gesturing me to have a seat.
Not knowing why I came down, she walked over to the chair across from the one she pulled out for me; her tiny hands arranged the table settings. She began to tell me about her day; her cute Puerto Rican accent has a way of making me smile—“Come, sit…sit down; how are you?”
“I’m great. I ran out of coffee; I need to hurry up and get my house together.”
I was rushing the conversation; I had left my phone upstairs, so I had no clue how much time I had, so I let her know that I was on a timed schedule. I just needed a cup a coffee—I had a long list of chores I had to complete, before the evening.
Typically, she would fulfill my request by emptying the instant coffee grains into a little ziplock bag or pour a prepared cup into my mug, but on this particular day, she made a fresh pot. As the coffee brewed, we chatted about the weekend, my daughter, and what I had planned for the summer.
The coffee was ready…
We continued with our conversation, which had now shifted topics—a culture divided and relationships. My neighbor stepped away over to her cupboard and pulled out a beautiful ceramic mug. Engraved, on the side of the mug, were initials— she poured the hot coffee into the mug, and suggested a little almond milk. “No, but thank you.” I kindly declined. I was on a tight schedule.
She smiled—I smiled back, realizing the shift in events—what usually, had been a quick exchange of words, had now become something different. Instead of the familiar routine of the immediate exchange of coffee, this encounter had become much more—a friendly get-to-together, while enjoying a nice cup of coffee.
“I’m sixty-six, and I remember when I relocated to Louisville, Kentucky. I moved here in 1975 to attend college.” She continued, revealing her past life experiences—sharing her journey as a brown woman transitioning into a predominantly white environment, a broken marriage, and the passing of her mother.
“My mother never discussed the color of other people in our house; my neighbors were black, and all my friends were black. It wasn’t until I moved here, to Kentucky, and that’s when I was caught off guard with the shock of it all—racism is true, and it still lives. One day, while in the dorms, I witnessed one of the black girls and one of the white girls arguing; I could not believe what I was overhearing. I immediately ran to the phone, called my mother, (who was back in Puerto Rico) and described to her what had happened. I hung up the phone, composed but at the same time disturbed. My mother, who had attended school here as well, advised me to get used to it—that’s the world you live in now.”
She took a sip of her coffee, and then looked at me, “Sweetie, I know exactly what you are speaking around and your concerns.”
While I sipped my coffee, I became curious—interested in her journey, “What made you stay? Why didn’t you move back to Puerto Rico?
“I got married. “She giggled, with an undertone of heartbreak, but at the same time explaining with a demeanor of comfort on how she met her ex-husband.
“I fell in love with his mind. He was my best friend, but at that time, I was growing, and I was in love. He is a great man, but he did not deserve me. When our relationship ended, I was hurt, but at the same time, I had a chance to fall in love with myself; I’ve continued life with joy while experiencing lifetime memories. I’m happy now. I’ve been with my boyfriend since 1999—we were friends for many years before we started dating. All my friends live alone, too; a few divorced, but all realize the importance of self-worth. Now, we are happier and better women, because we know who we are and we have our own space.”
It was at that moment when I realized our life experiences had aligned—similar experiences among comparable outcomes. Our hour of intense conversation concluded with both of us in tears. I couldn’t help but feel guilty—I assumed her life was perfect. At times, I thought she only saw me as a single mom trying to make ends meet.
However, I was wrong…
“Jessica, I watch you running off to work—exhausted but focused. I hear you—disappointed with your daughter because you are teaching hear. Our walls are thin, so I know when you are up all night cleaning and doing laundry. You work hard, but all the hard work will pay off. We all go through challenging seasons in life, but all things will come back around in your favor. Never give up, I know you are going to receive good karma.”
After proving me wrong, she hugged me and thanked me for my visit.
We must not allow the planned time, pre-existing thoughts, or outside distractions deceive us of intentional universal moments. Every moment has been designed to prepare you for what’s to come. If you don’t pay attention to your surroundings or if you hurry through significant encounters, and ignore the current situation, you can hinder yourself from developing into the person you are to become.
I had to ask myself:
What if I decided to cut our conversation short?
What if I never showed interest in her conversation?
Looking back, I’m grateful and have come to understand the value of a genuine conversation. Believe it or not, we all have the same problems, experiences, and are living towards comfort. When you take a chance to look past a person’s color or financial class, you come to realize we are all human—seeking genuine love and peace-of-mind.
Have you has a life encounter that altered your way of thinking?
Jessica is a rising new face of vegan culinary cuisine who takes pride in her craft as a recipe designer and holistic lifestyle educator. New Living encouraging others to shift towards a wholesome lifestyle; in addition, cultivating the common mindset into understanding that healthy living is a lifelong process, not just a diet plan.