When the Levee Breaks

Today has been very emotional, and it's only noon.

My son graduated today. My youngest. My baby. The only boy who'll ever have my whole heart.
It was a brief, COVID-type graduation. It was very odd, but not as disappointing as I may have thought it would be. I hope it was the same for my boy. He has worked extraordinarily hard to get to where he is today.
I made it through the ceremony without tears. It wasn't until afterwards that the levee broke.
And it has been a waterfall ever since.

It became especially uncontrollable when I hugged him as we were parting for the afternoon. When I told him I loved him and how proud of him I was (for probably the 47th time). And while hugging me back tightly, he whispered, "I love you too. I couldn't have done it alone."

Cue the waterfall.

It didn't help that I woke up this morning with a pool of emotions swirling around in my head.
It's been an interesting week.

I went back to work this week. Back to bartending. To an industry that I have been in for twenty years.
And yet it was so foreign.
All the new rules and regulations are maddening. And that's only one piece of it for us. We've opened a second bar in our back banquet room, since our front bar is so small, anticipating we would have enough business to justify it. I worked my ass off this week getting that room turned into a bar.
Yesterday and today have yet to prove our business theory. Or, our hopes, rather. I think I had 9 customers total yesterday. And the night shift wasn't much different. Today has been quiet as well.
We knew it would be a trial and error re-opening. That we would learn as we go. We didn't really know what to expect. Better to err on the side of caution and have the ability to serve more numbers than not. We'll just keep winging it. It's all we really can do.

And I have so many mixed emotions that accompany going back to work.
I missed (most of) my customers. I missed doing what I do (mostly). I missed leaving the house with a purpose.
And yet, I went back with trepidation.
I knew my earnings would be cut in half. And they will probably be as such until things return to normal. Whatever that is, and whenever that will be.
And then, the bar burnout.
I have been doing this a very long time. Even before COVID, I was ready for a career change. As I've said a dozen times; the older I get, the more intolerant I become.
Years ago, it was entertaining. It was an unconventional job where I could be myself, be comfortable, and have fun.
But, to put it simply, I don't love hanging around drunk (or buzzed, or whatever) people. It's just not fun for me anymore. I choose to not have it in my personal life, and I think I'm at a point where that spills over to my "professional" life.
It has changed over the years. I have changed. I want something different for my life.
Something more.

Speaking of wanting something more...

Despite the reality, despite the differences, despite my intuition, I crossed an emotional threshold recently. I let go of fear, angst, worry, and lost all common sense. I unexpectedly gave in to hope, and my Disney-edge, school-girl, romantic notions.

It's been a long time since I've grown to love someone. And this spring I have been pointedly reminded that it can't be prevented, no matter how hard you try. It sneaks up on you. It doesn't matter who you are, or who they are, or what life is like in the moment (even during a historical pandemic).

My mother has always said, "You can't choose who you love." And I hate that her sentiment has been right, so many fucking times in my life.

This week, as our little corner of the world started to normalize, I was reminded again. Reminded that it probably wouldn't turn into that thing that I wanted it to be. Reminded of reality. Of differences. Reminded why I tried so hard not to love.

Given my track record, I'm probably not very good at it anyway.

And so here I sit, alone in my kitchen, listening to nothing but the hum of the air conditioner and the discord in my head, dog at my feet, having just watched my son graduate.. wondering if these two are the only boys I'll ever truly share a love with.

And now, several hours after starting to write this, I will kick my sadness and self-pity in the butt, as I prepare to go play a gig at my boy's graduation party.
Hopefully we can avoid the rain.
And waterfalls.