Seems counterintuitive to use those words together one being the everyday the other being a wonder or a shock or an amazement? But I found a recent business trip filled with them. Brene Brown, author of Daring Greatly and TED talk on vulnerability gone viral fame says…we’re all so busy chasing the extraordinary that we forget to stop and be grateful for the ordinary.
Not me, I love the ordinary it’s amazing to me, it presents itself in such a quiet and thoughtful way that you can’t help but be in awe of it. It surprises me constantly with “of course” moments. See what you think:
The morning of my trip to Boston I realized I hadn’t received a confirmation from the hotel so I called. Rose on the other end assured me that the rooms I booked for my colleague and I were indeed ready for our arrival and that they had mistakenly misspelled Sandi in my email address as Sandy.
The ride up which, had I listened to the news, was supposed to be nothing but torrential rain, possible tornadoes, and aggravation turned out to be partly sunny and filled with interesting conversation. Arriving a bit early left time for a quick sandwich made by hand by a woman who thought it important to pull a tomato from the stand and slice it fresh. Of course she did.
The meeting was perfect. More teaching than preaching. More interesting questions from people who were truly interested in the answers. Some levity, some sharing of information, some friendly good natured scolding all to the end of greater understanding and refinement of the “way it’s always been done processes.” A couple of hours that seemed like minutes later, not your typical grey suit meeting. Whew.
Work day done, off to the hotel. Lovely, on the water, near a wonderful part of the city we were greeted warmly, upgraded to King, and began our off time with an exhale. I was so surprised to find my room number was exactly the same as my address on Stowe Lane. My beloved Stowe Lane. When I exclaimed I had great hotel Karma the woman behind the desk went on to fill my heart by saying I seemed a person with great Karma in general. How wonderful, what a terrific way to set the tone for an evening with friends. Of course it did.
I love a delightful dinner with friends, the people who nourish your soul while you nourish your hunger. Conversation that is at once animated and relaxing offering up the chance to learn more about each other while cementing the commonality that brought you together in the first place. The food was delicious and among friends everyone could pick at the other’s plate. The wine a perfect pairing, the dessert light yet indulgent. Saying goodbye afterward was difficult but full of promises to meet again as soon as we could. One last walk through the square to pay tribute to the tragedy of the marathon and we were on the train back to the hotel. We got off the train about a mile from the hotel to truly experience the night doings in the North End. The people, the smells of the food wafting from the restaurants the hub bub, then a night cap and a very nice night’s sleep.
Morning in the North End is bustling with a different kind of energy. Workers repairing roads, firemen with their coffee outside the stations, restaurants getting ready for the day, and the bakeries sending the smell of Italian cookies and pastries out into the streets. But first I need my coffee and where better to enjoy a latte but at a tiny little place that had old Italian men at the bar throwing back single shots of Guglielmo espresso. Relatively new in the US (the brand of espresso that is) these veterans of the single shot were enjoying it so why wouldn’t we. Why wouldn’t we indeed, with a very charming Italian behind the bar making us feel at home and pulling shots with the finesse of the former Roman barista that he surely was. Sitting at one of the few tables, listening to the Italian chatter, enjoying the latte made exactly the way the barista wanted to make it (there is no string of types of milk, foam, no foam, etc. necessary here) with just a hint of sweetness from the sugar and the bitterness from the espresso it would be the only coffee required until I got home.
Naturally we needed to head over to Mike’s for pastry and, unlike the night before, it was empty. The sfogliatelle wasn’t going to be out of the oven for another 20 minutes so we decided on breakfast first but where to go? The best part of being in the North End early morning is the time people can devote to conversation, Theo’s was the overwhelming recommendation by the staff at Mike’s. And of course they were spot on. Now back at Mike’s, with boxes filled with pastry tucked safely out of reach in the back seat we headed home.
I know like I know that the ordinary surprises we encountered, the upgrade, the room number, the ease of the meeting, the loving preparation of the food and the company in which we dined, the friendliness and resiliency of the people, who just recently had been harmed, all made what could have been just another business trip an extraordinary adventure that left me most grateful.
Thank you Boston.