“You look sleepy today,” says my new barista friend, who has been cheering me on since I told her Monday morning that I was quitting smoking. It is just after 6:00am. I woke up over an hour ago, sweaty, my teeth slightly clenched. I’m dressed for another long run.
I order my latte then hold up three fingers.
“You can do it,” she adds, as she steams the milk. I tell her I’ve done this before, and how I/you/we always think/hope it’ll be the last time.
“Oh, this will be your last time,” she assures me, as if she’s privy to some kind of intel (we are near the District after all). Then she asks why I started again. I begin to say something like “my life fell apart” but interrupt myself–it’s too pat, too easy, and in that moment, suddenly doesn’t feel true. I trail off after “life…” and say something about making excuses instead.
“No excuses,” she tells me. And in the next three minutes I learn that she was diagnosed with breast cancer last year and now has to have a biopsy for an ovarian cyst. I learn that she works eight hours a day before going to therapy, making herself some dinner, and exercising in the evenings. I learn that she practices yoga. (“You have to do JOGA!” she says emphatically, in a delicious Honduran accent). I learn that she has a daughter who’s a senior in college, majoring in accounting. I learn that she does not worry. She stays busy. She keeps going.
I bow to her and then go sit down. I fuss with the internet connection for a while, then get back up and go ask her name. “The Queen!” I exclaim when she tells me. How perfect. I tell her about the blog and ask if it would be ok to write about meeting her. She says yes–and then offers me her email address and asks me to let her know how it’s going, since I’m leaving Alexandria today and won’t see her again.
Day 3, dedicated to Reina and the fight against women’s reproductive cancers.