Friends in Strange Places

Days alive: 12,159

Friends I’ve run into today: 2

Plot twists considered: 3

Today has been odd. I’m unbelievably sad. Can’t seem to keep smiling for real so I’ve screwed one on and tried to make it through the day.

I was rewarded, though.

Back when I was younger, post 2010 couch surfing Theo worked at an “adult novelty” store that was full time and just barely paid the bills. And when I closed, leaving the store around 0230 in the dark, I’d often burn hours at the local Denny’s because it was the only thing open.

Money was tight, but they had a $2/3/4 menu. And if I didn’t have to open, I’d hang out there, writing in a notebook or reading a book until it was light out. Miss Debbie was a server on nearly every overnight, often with her daughter Tina that was months younger than I. Miss Debbie helped a broke kid out of there was a miss-order. Or just cheered me up when I had a bad day.

We ran into her at Perkins. A server walked behind me, said “just behind ya, sugar,” and I knew I knew that voice. She turned back around once she dropped off the drinks on her tray. And she grinned at me. “You used to work at the Denny’s,” my zero-filter self said. “I wondered if you recognized me,” she laughed as she hugged me.

She remembered I had moved to Texas, come back. She’s been gone from Denny’s for two years, but knew me as soon as I smiled at her.

I want to cry.

I don’t know if she knows how many nights she helped fill an empty stomach and made me laugh when that was the farthest thing from my mind. Miss Debbie is doing well. Hair still the same beautiful red I remember, and braid down her back as she always wore it.

It’ll be worth the 30 minute drive to come out here more often.

And then I ran into Terri, and shocked the hell out of her when I called her name. Last I saw her, we were cackling across J’s mom’s table, both respectively functionally ensnarled in our own crocheting.

Today has gotten better. It’s not great, but better.

Gives me active hope that tomorrow will be even better.

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