The barista just called me “Baby.” And my reaction surprised me. Ten years ago, I openly professed my distaste for such casual terms of endearment from strangers. Yet in this moment, I wanted to curl up in her lap. And then, noticing I was actually lulled rather than repelled by her word choice, I welled up with gratitude.
She poured me a coffee, steamed me a little milk, handed me the cup and, just like honey, said, “Here you go, Baby.” If I had any rigidness in my body left over from my yogurt-splattered, tension-laced morning, it’s gone now. With one word, the super-tired caretaker mantle I was wearing in my admittedly martyr-like way was flipped on its head and I became the cared-for. In the simplest and quickest of quotidian exchanges, this woman chose to show sweetness over the perfunctory. To think I almost didn’t go for a coffee this morning. I almost sat in the lobby of my son’s occupational therapy clinic, waiting for him to finish playing with Miss Melissa while watching other kids and parents come and go. Instead, I got a thing, which I call love, from yet another unlikely source: the tough-looking chick at Starbucks.
What’s funny is that in my younger, cockier, judgier days, I hated it when people I barely knew called me “babe,” “honey” or “sweetie.” What was my deal? So cynical, so much to prove. I was caught up in having to be an unstoppable, independent grown-up that I completely missed out on all the delicious softness coming my way. What a waste of good love in the world, my being too self-protectively closed off to accept it. Well, I’m drinking in that good stuff heretofore, small as it may be. Because although as a younger woman I bought into the message that we need to be tough and strong and cynical to excel in the harsh world, I’m seeing things differently now. Everything we need for our nourishment and exaltation is out there, looming invisibly about us, every day, if we just open our hearts to receive it. And, baby, it feels amazing.