I’m currently sitting on the cold, pale-colored tiled bathroom floor of my outdated dorm. I’m eating an over-cooked, expired chocolate chip coffee cake I brought back from work about ten minutes ago, and I chew on it therapeutically trying to ignore the various strands of hair on the ground.
I was kept late after work, again. My roommate is trying to sleep, so I found shelter in the vacant bathroom that separates us from our suite-mates, who are always asleep by the time I get back to my dorm room. It’s a courtesy thing – to not turn on my night-stand lamp or leave the hall door open for my roommate’s sake. I’m going to be up for a while, and I know how important sleep is to college students.
I am still in my Einstein Bros. Bagels uniform, and I’m at debating whether or not to use the shower that I am facing as I rest my head against the wooden cupboards below our sink. My black pants are covered in copper-brown splotches, whether it’s bleach stains from cleaning or food residue from working or garbage-picking, I’m not really sure. I am surprised I don’t already smell myself, after spending a good 15 minutes in the rain picking up garbage that scattered the ground.
It was humorous, I have to admit. Chasing paper coffee cups rolling away into the dark as the wind blows it further — it was like a race. I usually don’t mind taking the trash out at the end of my shift, but I usually don’t have to worry about others’ as well. It’s a rule that dumpsters and surrounding areas need to look neat, and when my co-worker and I approached the scene while lugging our own loaded white garbage bags, I thought a tornado swept through this outside corner of the student center. It was raining, and the mud puddles reminded me of “Jurassic Park.” I was waiting for a carnivorous Dilophosaurus to jump out from behind a dumpster and spit venom at us. All we needed were plastic yellow raincoats and a Barbasol can. Just thinking about my favorite movie lightened my mood.
I really couldn’t help but laugh, though, despite my stinging hands and wet socks. It was nearly midnight, but I was just thankful it was dark enough in the trash corner so I could not see the fresh imperfections on my favorite Nike shoes. It must have been a sight –two girls scrambling around chasing untamed food wrappers and empty Clif Bar boxes. I laughed even harder when a garbage broke as my coworker lifted it into the dumpster. I wasn’t surprised; the poor bag was stretched beyond its strength and soaked from the night’s continuous rain. I held in my burst of laughter when I heard her voice crack into a cry.
We shoveled up arm fills of half-eaten, soggy Chick-fil-A sandwiches and mushy cafeteria cookies. I felt s little better when I found a couple hotel-sized squares of soap in the mix — at least I felt a little cleaner, though I couldn’t tell you why or how they were there.
I clocked out about 45 minutes passed my scheduled time, but I didn’t complain because I need the extra hours. I need the extra cash.
As I lean against my bathroom sink, I take in the quiet of my suit at 1 a.m. I breathe. I rest. I reflect.
I open an envelope mailed to me from a friend. It holds several small envelopes dated for days in the week to come. Opening the one marked for today, I am nearly brought to tears at the thoughtfulness and love of this woman God has brought into my life at such a perfect time. She sent me notes of encouragement- – one daily for six days starting with the beginning of spring break. It’s funny how encouragement comes at the low points in life — times when you find yourself sitting on your dirty bathroom floor in the middle of the night. She and God both know how I’ve been struggling with the upcoming mission trip I’m leading to New England. A trip that I really don’t think I’m well suited to lead.
I have two tests this week, both in classes I have below-average grades in. I still need to study tonight. I had to call in to one of my three jobs today to work on assignments before I clocked in to my student center job tonight. I’m not complaining, though, because I made progress on my pile of schoolwork and even squeezed in a 15-minute nap when my eyes fell shut. I have great friends, well, at least a few, but that’s all I really need.
I’m tired. I’m worn. And I feel somewhat sick after eating my leftover coffee cake. But that’s okay, because I have a God who looking out for me, and He will give me strength. Despite my heavy doubts and often unbelief, God still shows His goodness to me with a sense of humor and loving friends. It’s funny how He even answers my most faithless prayers.
I think we all need to take a moment to breathe, reflect and indulge in silence. I think we all need a little coffee-cake-bathroom time every once in a while. Even if it’s in the middle of the night.
Tomorrow is a new day. It’s going to be another busy day, but a new day filled with new opportunities and an updated me — a me with the experiences of the day before and lessons taken away from it. It’s a new day to reflect on, and just one more day into the adventure of my unimaginable future.
I guess I better take that shower now; I don’t want to smell like tossed-out leftovers tomorrow.