“Today is going to be a good day,” I told the reflection in the mirror.
There was no reason for that statement not to be true. The birds were chirping in the trees, the sun was shining in the sky, I'd remembered to make my bed... Sure, the coffee had brewed incorrectly, serving me up an entire spoonful of grounds along with it, but that was just one minor inconvenience.
It was going to be a good day.
I smiled widely at myself in the mirror, willing the happiness to spill from my cheek muscles to the synapses in my brain, to cue the happy chemicals to release with an emphatic ‘go, go, go!’. It was slow, but I was sure that it would work. I turned to the bathroom, started the shower... so what the hot water only lasted for 30 seconds. That was ok. A cold shower was better for the metabolism anyway. Lots of people specifically took cold showers. On purpose. This wasn’t a setback. This was the universe helping me out.
Today was going to be a good day.
I had gotten up with plenty of time, so there was no reason for me to be late to work today, not even by a millisecond. Except for the fact that first I couldn’t find my shoes, then I couldn’t find my purse, then I spent the next twenty-five minutes tearing my apartment apart searching for my keys, only to find them tucked safely beside the fruit bowl in the kitchen. Yesterday-Andie had set them there on purpose, so that I would remember to snatch a banana on my way out the door. I picked one up now, concentrating on not squeezing it too hard as I swiped my keys up and rushed out the door.
Ok, so I was two minutes late so far, but I could totally make that up on the highway. Today was still going to be a good day.
“Oh, come on,” I groaned through gritted teeth as the cars around me all slowed to a crawl. Some other over-zealous worker had been too eager, and there was a slew of cop cars and fire engines clogging up the roadways surrounding the mild fender bender. I crossed myself as I inched past the accident, saying a quick prayer for the individuals involved. There were no ambulances amongst the gaggle of emergency vehicles, so I took that as a positive. But, it was still with a heavy sigh that I pulled out my cellphone and typed out a quick apology text to my boss.
It’s ok, I reassured myself while I puffed out my cheeks and smiled into the rearview mirror, it’s ok. It’s still a good day. It can only get better from here.
But you know what? I was starting to question the validity of affirmations. If they worked so well, then why was everything not-good happening?
By the time 12pm rolled around, I’d been screamed at by my boss, assaulted with a migraine, and confronted with the reality that I’d officially overdrawn my bank account for the fourth time this month. It was with a heavy heart and a lump in my throat that I sat down on the stone steps outside of the office and peeled my browning banana. It was good that I’d brought it. I had no money for lunch.
See? The positive me-that-I-was-trying-to-be insisted, that’s a good thing. If you hadn’t placed your keys by the fruit bowl then you wouldn’t have remembered to grab a banana and you wouldn’t have had anything to eat for lunch. That was a good thing. It’s all ok. It is a good day.
And then, a gust of wind jolted my arm and the banana broke. Two-thirds of it landed splat on the bird-dung speckled pavement at my feet.
I broke down.
“Are you ok?”
I snapped up at the unfamiliar voice, scrubbing my face self-consciously, eager to erase the tears, and smearing banana peel all over my cheeks.
“Huh?” I sniffed, blinking up into the sun. At my feet there had appeared two watery black shoes and up at the sun there was a head with light brown hair looking down at me.
“A-are you ok?” the kind stranger repeated, a little uncertainly. No doubt my tear-stained face had alerted him to just how much of a mess I was. No doubt he was now anxiously calculating how fast he could get away from here and what the best exits would be.
“I’m fine,” I covered my face, blocking out the light, the man, and the embarrassment. Well, I’d hoped blocking my face would’ve blotted out the embarrassment, but strangely it only increased it. I focused on the toes of the strangers shiny black shoes, willing them to walk away, to escape the catastrophic mess that was me. Instead, they rotated and planted themselves next to me.
“Here,” the man said, his voice much lower now, right next to my ear. I jumped, my hand dropping from my face in shock. He was holding out a handkerchief to me. A handkerchief? I thought men only carried those around in old movies. I planned to reject it, but as the wind caressed my face I felt the highlighted coolness of sticky banana, snot, and tears.
“Thank you,” I accepted the handkerchief gratefully and immediately began dabbing at my eyes, cheeks, and forehead. The stranger said nothing while I cleaned myself up. He just fiddled around with the bag that he was carrying. Finished, I folded up the cloth so that the soiled parts were in the center and covered up by the cleaner corners, before handing it back to him. “Here, thank you.”
“No problem,” he smiled at me, and I got hit with embarrassment all over again. He was handsome. Incredibly so. I couldn’t even bear to think about how I must’ve looked to him. I was overwhelmed with the urge to apologize to him, to reassure him that I wasn’t normally like this, but I clenched my teeth. Over-apologizing was one of the things I was working on. I focused on the light blue fabric of his suit coat and reminded myself – you haven’t done anything bad to him, so there’s no need to apologize to him. He offered to help you. You didn’t make him. It was good of you to accept his offer, cause let’s face it, you needed the help. You said thank you, and that’s enough. You don’t need to thank him again, or apologize, or explain yourself.
All of these thoughts cascaded through my blood in a manner of seconds, during which time his hand had been lifting and reaching out towards me, revealing a protein bar.
“Would you like this?” he asked.
Just underneath the protein bar, by his feet, I could still see the broken banana. Tears welled up in my eyes again, clouding my vision and choking my throat. I thought about rejecting him, but rationally noted the hollow grumbling in my stomach, the swirling lightness in my head, and the conviction I’d made to stop saying ‘no’ to everything and everyone as a knee-jerk response.
I nodded mutely.
I took the bar from him gratefully with both hands, offering him the shakiest of small smiles. He smiled back, that easy warm kind of smile that I’d been practicing in the mirror this morning. I etched it into my psyche so I could practice it later, the way all of the lines on his face tilted upwards, the sparkling way in which the sunlight glinted golden off of his caramel colored eyes, the relaxed tension in his neck muscles…
“If you ever want more of those, just hit me up,” he held his hand out towards me. “I’m Ryan, from accounting.”
“Hi, Ryan from accounting,” I shook his hand, “I’m Andie, from customer service.”
“Nice to meet you, Andie from customer service,” he smiled again.
As he disappeared and I took a bite from the mint-chocolate protein bar I found myself smiling slightly. Wow. Maybe affirmations really did work.
Today was a good day.