March 22, 2021

I Ate In a Restaurant, And Other Life Milestones

We were standing outside a taqueria in Fraser, Colorado, yesterday. It looked terrific. My partner has fairly specific preferences around food, and when he gets excited about something off the “plan,” I take notice of his enthusiasm. He was psyched.

There we were on the sidewalk, and I was equivocating. Under my uncertainty was tons of fear. I had my second dose of Pfizer three days earlier. He had one dose of Moderna three weeks ago. I know the data. We were pretty safe. The restaurant was taking precautions.

And still. Scared. Like many people, I hadn’t eaten in a restaurant (or done almost anything except grocery shop) inside in a year.

“Can we get takeout?” I asked. “There’s no place to eat anything outside,” he observed, rightly. Hem. Haw. Hem. Haw.

“I want to drink a beer and eat some tacos, inside,” he said with clear conviction and without animosity.

Then I looked at him. He’s not exactly a flimsy man around things that really matter. This clearly mattered. In those seconds, I computed all of the times he had altered his life for me over the last 13 months. I am more at risk of serious complications from COVID, and he (and his 18-year-old son) adjusted their lives in many ways to meet my preferences. I was extremely careful. There were arguments. Eventually “we” were extremely careful.

I knew in this moment on the sidewalk of this wonderful little town that this was a time to honor his preferences. We were safe. It was reasonable. The food looked amazing.

After a few seconds of silence, I said yes.

The meal wasn’t relaxing for me. My body and mind are fairly accustomed now to distance and caution around other humans. But I ate, and I drank. Without my asking, we didn’t linger for another beer or surplus conversation, and I appreciated that.

Yes, this is a story about the deep shifts that will be occurring for many of us as we reenter the “world” post-COVID. For me, it was also an awareness that my man had met me over the last year in a place that allowed me to feel safe. It wasn’t a rollicking pool party to get there, but we found each other in this place.

Now, I think it’s time for me to meet him.

📷: Tai's Captures on Unsplash

Sue Heilbronner

Sue Heilbronner is an executive coach, Conscious Leadership facilitator, and catalyst for change.

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