Though midnight approaches, the cracked and weathered bark high on the sparse evergreens glows like the flames of towering candles flickering slowly in the breeze. Rhythmically, the cool summer air pushes and recedes, swishing through the swaying needles. The distant cawing of a gull breaks the calm, but it quickly quiets as if embarrassed for intruding on the peace. The dark purple leaves of the weeping tree on the far side of my pleasant, yet temporary, patio, rustles to call for attention but competes with the surging laughter of the trio inside the house behind me. They pass the bright evening hours fully absorbed in each others’ unexpected company, unconcerned with the impending tasks of tomorrow. For the moment, a careless laugh and the voice of someone new are enough, and the future and past are not.
I’ve found myself in this situation at the end of a string of unfortunate events. Having ended the day exhausted and impatient for sleep, I entered the small student room Pablo and I were to share for the week. Immediately recognizing the stale odor of cigarette smoke, I knew something wasn’t right. As I crossed the inner threshold, my uneasiness swelled to anger. Dirt and a suspicious white powder scattered the countertop, cigarette butts and an array of party filth littered the floor. As disgust and frustration welled toward fury, I focused on my breath and the thought that the emotion was only a thought. Rationality kicked in, and I knew that there was nothing that could be done at this hour. However, at Pablo’s insistence, I called the number on the welcome sheet left on the counter. As expected, we would not be getting a new room, but the phone call led us to call our supervisor, who had arranged for the room and who promptly offered to pick us up and host us in her home.
As we stood in the parking lot, waiting for her to arrive, we giggled childishly at our misfortune.
“Eventually, we’ll tell this story and laugh about it,” Pablo commented.
“Eventually? Like tomorrow at lunch,” I corrected.
“After lunch!” Pablo insisted.
“Right, at least no pictures during lunch.”
But we were already laughing. There was nothing else we could do. Indeed, that’s why we laugh. There’s nothing we can do about the constant curveballs that life throws us.
All we can do is smile, laugh, and move on. There is always something brighter on the other side.
And now, I sit here scribbling in this sanctuary while Palo chats with our hosts. In the end, the night turned out quite alright.