I woke up again in the middle of the night after a four hour sleep, feeling anxious as if I was back in the restaurant. In my dream I was dropping the customer’s money, it was all getting mixed up, and they were all impatient – I already knew i wasn’t getting a tip from any table. It’s been like this almost every day for a month straight, and I’ve only worked there since the end of May. I am so unhappy as a server – it’s not as easy sounding as “delivering food” but I’m not here to justify why I feel so ashamed that I shut my eyes tightly, wrapped in my blanket, next to Eduardo. Tears seeped through the cracks of my eyelashes and spilled into my other eye. All I wanted was for those around me to have happiness. I’d been away from Florida almost 2 years. I have the things I wanted that I didn’t have – whenever I felt bad about my job, I wrote down the things I was grateful for. Remember when the trailer you lived in didn’t have a shower or place to wash dishes? Remember when you didn’t have a car, and you had to walk 11 miles to town just for a job that paid you under the table? I’ve been reading blogs about people who leave their lives in New York or some city, who leave their mortgage and their coveted 9-5 job for van life. I’d love a slower pace job, where I didn’t wear a uniform and run around refilling drinks hoping that guests left a dollar over 10%, to cover tipshare. Hoping I didn’t get sat a 17 big top. I’d love a job where I was at a desk, even if the hours dragged by, at least I’d be treated fairly. All I wanted was for those around me to have happiness – I was so grateful to have this apartment with my AC, and a place to shower, because I remembered having to take showers at my Aunt’s when I had the chance, and laying naked in the trailer, sweating in the Florida summer. It was so hard to find a job in my last town, but here in East Texas, you could pick one up at any glorified fast food place. And here I was, finally with the things I needed for basic survival, i could afford food and gas and the internet, a fridge, things most young people take for granted. And here I was, my soul silent, because I was so bitter. Bitter that my mom had to work to death. That Eduardo couldn’t make movies. That I wasn’t a writer like I dreamed of being since my earliest memory, stuffing receipts and envelopes into my great grandparents typewriter, so i could hear it chirp like a bird.
I am reluctant to leave my position for something that doesn’t pay as much. If you’re an experience server, and can handle waiting on 30 people, you bring home a lot of money. I know servers I work with bring home almost 500 dollars a week. Plus my 2.15/hr, I make at least 10/hr. But the stress – the abuse, sometimes it doesn’t bounce off me.
I’ve spoken to my manager each time I got overwhelmed, a brief one-on-one in his crammed office. He has a way of making decisions for me. I told him I wanted nothing more than to work a few times a week and that i’d find another job. “you want more hours? I’ll give you more hours. And there’s nothing to feel ashamed about not being able to handle this, we’ll give you a 4-table section.” But still, I was trapped in the weeds, and I could tell after messing up with that big top, he wanted to fire me. But he needed me to cover his split shifts – the lowest ranked shift on the totem pole.
I tell myself to stay positive, it’s money every day and if I do this for a year, I can go back to school. And then I started to cry, because there are so many symbols in my life that meant I wanted to reinvent myself. The violin I finally got, but can’t tune. The pharmacy technician trainee certificate, a sign that I wanted to be better at math. My hula-hoop, a plastic circle that symbolized my passion to dance. But I had tried to get into ballet, and that was too far. (You can read my other blog, HALO for that chapter) And all the blogs i printed out about living in a van and traveling, because I wanted to see my family, and because I wanted to go to the mountains.
I fought back tears because I knew that if deep down, I was not living my purpose, how tortured does Eduardo feel, not having the money to produce his movies? How does my mother feel, wanting to go to college, but not having the time or energy from her job?
And then, it struck me, that I should just pick up my violin, drive to the next town in my beat up Pontiac, and get it tuned, and play outside, and ask people to donate money so i can have lessons. (violinlab.com offers in depth online tutoring for less than 25 bucks a month! )To drive to my friend’s house and ask her if I can borrow her ballet barre dvd and install a “barre” from the bamboo Eduardo cut down. That I should go to the library and print out the free pdf file from http://www.pharmacy-tech-test.com/pharmacy-tech-book.html, and buy the medical dosage calculations books and study. That I should buy an LED hoop so I can get lost in my flow.
And I kept thinking about all the books that affected my life. I’ve always believed that certain books come into your life at the time you need to read them. How at one point, I stopped reading fiction and poetry so I could read about war, history, and travel memoirs and spirituality and yoga. And I knew, deep down, I needed to write books.