“You can only come to the morning through the shadows.” | JRR Tolkien
“Complications arose, ensued, were overcome.” | Captain Jack Sparrow
Welcome back to the beautiful chaos that is The Office! But before we get there, let’s back up a bit….to the shadows before the morning.
Tuesday morning dawned for me with stabbing pains in my stomach. My first thought was food poisoning and I immediately tried to remember what I had eaten the day earlier but nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Perhaps half an hour passed and the pain had only increased but off I went to work anyway. Thankfully, I wasn’t the one driving so I was able to drown in my pain without distraction 😛 Tears squeezed out of my eyelids which is saying a lot ’cause I don’t normally cry when I’m in pain…. I desperately prayed to the Most High God that He’d take it all away and that He’d send me a glimmer of hope and goodness for the rest of the day. ‘Cause things were NOT off to a stellar start.
I’ll spare you the gory details but let’s just say that my body fought off the “poison” by doing what it normally does in such cases…getting rid of it. I immediately felt much better, as one does, and I thanked the Father of Lights that He’d brightened things up a bit. Instead of stabbing pain, my stomach now felt sore and drained, like I’d been pummeled in the Pit of Despair and had several years of my life sucked away by The Machine. A wave of exhaustion hit me, along with a splitting headache but at least I didn’t feel like my insides were being lanced by a hot poker.
I made it to The Office, hoping for some Adventure to turn up and let me tell you, The Office did not disappoint.
Still feeling sore and pretty nauseous, I smiled at Sheila who was sitting at the front desk. Her long wavy Irish-red hair was up in a bun which was very much out of the ordinary. She always has it hanging round her shoulders and it adds a stark yet lovely contrast to her all-black attire. She’s got a trademark and that’s one of the things I love about people. The quirks that make them who they are and help you pick them out in a crowd once you get to know them a bit bitter. Sheila ALWAYS wears all-black. Like ALWAYS. But her glorious red hair just makes everything pop and it’s grand.
Anyway, her hair was up and a giant smile was on her face and that’s when I knew she had a story to tell. Sheila’s a bit of an enigma and at first I was a little terrified of her…and I couldn’t read her facial expressions, which probably contributed to my unease… But now, we get on splendidly. And yes, she still terrifies me…a bit 😛 So seeing her smile so big kinda clued me in that she was in cheerful mood. There was another reason as to her joy but I’ll get to that later. I wished her good morning as usual and she held my gaze as I walked by her desk (I like to call it Sheila’s Throne because she wears heels and often has her swivel chair up so high that those two things combined make her look like she’s on a throne…also, I’m a bit odd and make up names for things and people to make Life more interesting :P) and I realized she had something more to say than the usual “Good Morning”.
And we come to Digression #1….It just explodes my heart with happiness when people go further than “Good Morning”. When they share something with you, unbidden, about how exciting their weekend was or that funny thing their child did or the fact that they hit a deer on the way to work and they’re scared it might be dead (I know, morbid, sorry). When they let the facade slip down for just a moment and allow the “real” them to poke through. I read somewhere that we tend to edit ourselves as humans when we’re around one another. A good friend and I were just speaking about this the other day. We tailor ourselves depending on whom we’re around. Not in a way that’s dishonest….even though perhaps it is…but just because we have different levels of comfort around different people. My friend and I were cracking up about something and she just looked at me and said “why can’t we be like this around other people?” And I immediately understood what she meant. Too often, we hide the “real” us because we’re afraid. Afraid of being “too much” for some people or “not enough” for others. Afraid of rejection or raised eyebrows or frowns or whatever else. So that’s why I really appreciate when people let down their shield around me, even if only for a moment. When they let their eyes light up about something or get so giddy about this quirky thing that other people don’t care about but that means the world to them.
And that’s why I paused when Sheila held my gaze. I could’ve kept walking, past the notice board, around the corner, and down the hallway to my office but I stopped by her desk to hear what she had to say. She seemed a little hesitant, even in her happiness, so I struggled to remember something that I could ask her about. Something that would prompt her to launch into her story. A light-bulb flicked on for which I was immensely thankful because otherwise, things would’ve gotten real awkward real fast what with me standing there in silence thinking up something to say while Sheila had a half-smile on her face, waiting for me to speak. Light dawned and I asked her if she had found a chance to take her motorcycles out for a spin over Easter Break. (She had mentioned the week before that she was hoping to get a chance to ride one of those bad boys.) She said she hadn’t because it rained and also because she’d had a little adventure of her own at the dog park. Now perhaps this was the story she’d wanted to share. Perhaps it wasn’t. Perhaps she hadn’t wanted to share anything at all and I’d imagined the “look” in her eyes. It’s all very possible. But I’m going with possibility #1 🙂
Sheila’s got a big dog named Harley. For a few months now, I’ve been convinced that her motorcycles are Harleys but now that I’m mulling everything over, well, I think I may have confused her dog with her motorcycles. But who knows. So Harley. Harley got bitten by a tiny little Dachshund at the dog park which resulted in lost-motorcycle time for Sheila and a vet visit for Harley. It was all a bit amusing and we were both laughing while Sheila recounted her tale. She got called into Ava’s office so her story was cut a bit short but it completely made my morning after my own little unexpected adventure. It was the beginning of the morning after the shadows; when the Darkness passes because it must, and the Sun shines all the clearer. Perhaps it seems like I’m exaggerating but, lovely humans, if even the slightest thing has “gone wrong” with your day when it begins, you know what it’s like to feel as if everything is crashing down. We can tend to be a little dramatic when things aren’t falling into place 🙂 And often it’s the little things that can turn a day around and that’s why I prayed in the car when the tears were rolling down my cheeks and my stomach was having a party to which I had most definitely NOT wanted to be invited. I prayed for the Most High to send some ray of sunshine during the day to chase away the pain and erase its memory.
I continued on down the hallway to my office and saw that Toby was back in to work and felt the hum of excitement and “normalcy” which had been missing while he and the others were away. Everyone was in rare form. Kenobi paused at my door as he arrived and wished me his customary “Good Morning”. I heard Mitchell’s distinctly clear and cheery voice down the hall and around a corner. Kristoff was pecking away in his office across from mine. Ronald was joking with someone as usual. It was all just so peaceful…and right. Even with the background noises. It had felt dead for a while because so many people were absent. Toby’d injured himself and was laid up for a bit. Rick had also injured himself and was laid up for a bit. Steve had been on vacation and Liza, Kenobi, Jessa, and even Kristoff had been out periodically for various reasons. But today, everyone was home and The Office was coming alive once more. And I think that’s part of the reason why Sheila had such a large smile on her face. Perhaps she felt it too. The return to the ordinary which is really rather extraordinary after all, because it’s our ordinary. Our ordinary beautiful chaos. And it is beyond grand.
Ellissa had come to work earlier than I did so she was already in our cozy yet window-less office when I arrived. We wished one another “Good Morning”, I shared my little morning adventure, and she updated me on some department shenanigans (which there are plenty of and the two of us pretty much always end up having to deal with them in some form or fashion because it’s part of our job). I left to put some food in my stomach even though the swirling nausea pushed me not to. Toby hailed me as I walked past his office and I inquired after his injury (as did mostly everyone in The Office who interacted with him…he and Rick…they were like our wounded warriors coming back home and great was the rejoicing 🙂 ). He asked me how I’d been and after catching up a bit, I went upstairs to Dunkin’ for a breakfast sandwich.
I returned and that’s when the spoiled milk incident happened. The one that gave this post its title.
I went to make a coffee at The Keurig. Probably a bad idea given my stomach’s precarious grip on health but, in the immortal words of Captain Jack Sparrow, complications arose, ensued, were overcome. While the coffee was brewing, I scrounged around in the mini-fridge for milk and, wonder of wonders, we had actual milk! Not the fake milk you buy in bulk at Costco or BJs that comes in those rectangular, cardboard-esque containers and smells faintly like baby formula. Real glorious milk in a plastic container with the green cap on top. 1% or 2%, I don’t remember and I don’t think I was really paying attention. I was just so overjoyed at the prospect of putting actual milk into my giant coffee mug. I gave the carton a cursory glance because, you know, some times milk goes bad and one can never be too careful, but the expiration date looked….passable….so into my coffee in went.
And then it instantly curdled. I eyed the mixed liquids suspiciously but poured in sugar anyway. The complications were definitely arising. Still eyeing the now-very-unpleasant-looking concoction in my mug, I padded back to my office and showed it to Ellissa. She asked what the date was on the carton and I told her. She too eyed it suspiciously and warned that it was probably death-milk. Toby gave a third slightly-different opinion.
I poured the coffee into the sink and asked Toby what he thought of the milk. Upon smelling it, he pronounced his judgment. It was fine. I must’ve looked at him with both my eyebrows raised because he then offered to drink it. Brave man but completely unnecessary ’cause I was still going to get rid of it regardless. I protested his chivalry and told him he’d get sick. To which he responded, “nah, I won’t get sick.” I laughed because this was very much the time for laughter. The death-milk wasn’t smelling precious yet Toby insisted he could withstand its potentially sickening effects. It was almost like when Westley proudly told Vizzini he had built up an immunity to iocane powder despite its rather obvious status as THE most deadly of poisons (I guess this post is the post for Princess Bride references, huh…).
Toby remained adamant and drank a small amount. The complications ensued and Toby grimaced. It sort of brought back memories of the chili incident where everyone thought they could handle the spicy heat but they very much could not. With a “that’s not good”, he spat the milk into the sink (apologizing for his lack of decorum which I found amusing yet lovely) and I probably looked at him with a face that said “I told you so”. He went back to his office with a changed opinion of the death-milk: “it’s not bad but it’s definitely more than on its way there”. I dumped the half-quart of foul-smelling liquid down the sink, grateful that the Most High spared my stomach more pain. And with that, the complications were overcome.
The rest of the day passed…veryyyyyyyy slowly.
Keira stopped in and brought Ellissa and I coffee and donuts from Dunkin’ which was perhaps the most unexpected yet gloriously lovely thing that happened all day. Especially given the failed Keurig attempt and the death-milk. My stomach had calmed down a bit by that point and the three of us, Keira, Ellissa, and I, chatted about our classes and about the semester coming to a close. It was such a lovely moment and the Most High really had answered my pain-filled prayer from earlier in the morning. He’d sent loads of Joy and cheer and there was so much Beauty in the mundane that day. But I wouldn’t have gotten to experience any of that fully unless I had gone through the shadows earlier in the day. Tolkien was right: you can only come to the morning through the shadows. If we don’t ever experience pain and even sadness, we won’t fully understand the true meaning of Joy. It’s sort of a paradox even while it makes it sense.
I’m very thankful the Most High had me go through what I did that Tuesday. It taught me a valuable lesson that I think I’m probably going to need to learn over and over again. You can only come to the morning through the shadows.
Oh and Toby threw an ice cube at Mandy and then pretended she dropped it, Rick updated Toby on all the movies he’d watched during his invalid-status, Kenobi and Rick fan-girled over video games for a solid 15 minutes, someone brought in a platter of gourmet five-star restaurant-style food (I’m talking French Toast sprinkled with powdered sugar and caramelized strawberries), Waldo and Liza gushed over the food and alerted the rest of us to its presence, and Steve, Jessa, Waldo, Nathan, and Kenobi swapped stories about their kids even though Kenobi doesn’t have any kids……so I’d say The Office is back in full swing 🙂
I feel like this quotation also sums up this post. Every day really is a new adventure and there’s no telling what may happen ❤
| We’re in a War, my friends, and we all need Courage on the Front Lines |