How many times have you let some little irksome thing about your day ruin your mood? Have you ever missed a precious moment because it wasn’t what you’d had your heart set on instead?
My guess is we all have, even if we don’t know it because opportunity slipped away before we even knew it was there.
I’m glad that’s not what happened to us the night of the Eye in The Sky. We would have missed it entirely if the restaurant had only had shrimp.
Earlier that week, I’d gone off campus for lunch with 4 co-workers. We were sick of microwavable “healthy choices,” and even sicker of the meager grab-and-go options the campus provides in the summer. So we decided to try a new Tex-Mex place that opened recently in the little town near the college.
It was a perfect summer day, and one of my colleagues drives a convertible. The five of us piled in, and off we went. Convertibles are generally not made for five people, and his was no exception. We must have looked like a clown car on the short jaunt to the restaurant. My co-workers in the back had to hold their breath, and there was no way they were getting out of there without a butt-in-the-face moment for the poor guy in the middle. Since I was the only girl on the brief trip, they had insisted I take the front passenger seat. I’m glad chivalry isn’t dead.
We ended up discovering a new favorite place for off-campus lunches, although I guess the next time we go we’ll take two cars. Some of my co-workers got burritos bigger than their heads, and I reveled in the fresh-made guacamole on my huge chicken taco salad. Sometimes, it really is all about the simple pleasures in life.
Fast-forward to the weekend. Lee spent Saturday working on one of his million outdoor yard projects, and I stopped writing long enough to do something that passed for housework. When evening rolled around, neither of us felt like making anything for dinner. Lee had a killer craving for shrimp, but we didn’t want to deal with crowds or noise or putting on clothes other than our shorts and tee-shirts.
Day-um, that last line sounded so geezerly.
After giving it some thought, I remembered that one of my colleagues had ordered a shrimp taco salad he said was the bomb. It had been piled with huge jumbo shrimp that made me regret ordering chicken on my own. I mentioned that to Lee. The place is small and not well-traveled, a super-casual neighborhood drop-in kind of joint. It seemed to meet all our needs: convenience, no crowds, no dress code, and shrimp. Off we went.
We got there, scanned the menu, and placed our orders. When Lee said he wanted a shrimp burrito, the guy at the register looked crestfallen.
“Sorry sir. Out of shrimp today. We have chicken, and …”
Lee looked even more distraught than the clerk. We debated for a few minutes, and decided to pass. Seafood cravings are brutal things, because nothing else will assuage them. You can sometimes crave a Twix Bar but settle for a Whatchamacallit. But you can’t jones for shrimp and fix yourself up with a beef taco. We thanked the clerk and headed back out into the muggy afternoon.
Not sure what we wanted to do instead, we headed home to figure it out. We live on a suburban street that is one big, dead-end hill. Our house sits a little more than halfway to the top. In the wintertime, it is often an icy terror. In the summertime, though, it is a tree-lined quiet haven, a place where we can forget that we’re in walking distance from the city line.
It was when we were turning onto the street, Lee still disappointed that his shrimp-craving hadn’t been sated, that he noticed the sunset. It seemed to follow us the rest of the way, pulsing and glowing red and orange and pink, beaming down like a beacon.
He parked, ran in the house and grabbed the camera, and started snapping pictures. His shrimp was momentarily forgotten. As he watched, a hole seemed to break open in the clouds and then widen, creating what we called “The Eye in the Sky.”
It was one of those beautiful, breathtaking sights that are there and gone in just a few moments. Had the restaurant had what we wanted for dinner, it would have been long gone when we got home.
Sometimes, life gives you shrimpy little disappointments. But if you brush them off, you might find it sends something ten times more magical and memorable in their place.