September 23, 2012

Pass the Beer and Banish the Ghost.

From the "This town is so damn small" files, have you ever found yourself in the presence of someone who was a part of your life during some of your lowest moments, years later, only to have them not realize it was you?  There's some real satisfaction in that, isn't there?

There was kraut.  It was delicious.
Saturday, I spent a good chunk of the day celebrating Oktoberfest at the neighborhood German beer place.  My circles of friends collided, and I was able to catch up a bit with several people from multiple groups, and it was generally a fantastic evening.  Heck, we even got a photo of me with a face full of wiener. 

There was polka, there were beer hall girls, men in leather pants, starchy foods, wieners, and lots and lots of beer.  Fantastic beer, served in glass mugs of all shapes and sizes.  Hell, I think it might be one of the only times of the year when you can actually buy one of the boots and take it home with you.

However, the pivotal moment for me happened as I was slowly making my way towards the exit.  Usually, it takes me a while to say my goodbyes, so it had been a half an hour since I started the journey.  As I was sitting back with my lady friends that I had arrived with, I realize that I knew the blond in the green jacket and glasses who was making his way between the chairs in my row.  It took me a moment before I could put a name to the face, or figure out where I knew him from.  My aha moment came when I realized I used to work with the guy many, many moons ago.

At that time in my life, I hadn't quite realized that I was miserable, but I was close.  I was uncomfortable in my own skin, in constant pain from an on the job injury, barely looked female, and was really rather sniveling.  To this day, I can't really fathom the idea of that woman and who I am now being the same person.

The blond and I worked at a help desk with about 6 other people, but I can tell you that I was most certainly the black sheep of that crew.  Not that I'm complaining.  I'm used to being the odd one out, either by design or by happenstance.  However, I'm sure that when I was let go from that position (the only job I've ever been fired from) there was at least some celebrating.  Though, in the end, it was perhaps one of the best things that has ever happened to me.  It put me on the road to where I am today.  If I do say so, even with some of the day to day frustrations, life's never been better.

As I saw there, I realized that he's seen me, but didn't have that twinkle of recognition in his eyes.  He was as close as three chairs away, and yet worlds apart.  I am a stranger to him.  And it was this thought that brought me joy.

That was the moment when I think I felt that old ghost look into the light and surrender herself to the hereafter.  That past is dead, and the woman who came out of the journey of a thousand footsteps is the new occupant of this reality.  It happened in a parking lot, under a tent, in a moment that maybe only one person noticed.  It was, dare I say it, magic.  There was no smug satisfaction that I'm somehow better than that group of people now.  I have no desire to tell them they were wrong to can me.  That is done. 
But that moment of silent zen amid polka music and the smells of German cooking was all about peace in the here and now.  That false front, the awkward, overly apologetic, cowed being I used to be is genuinely dead, and I'm able to live, fully involved, in my own skin.  Happy Fucking Oktoberfest indeed.

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