Wherever You Go...
--by singlestep, posted Dec 4, 2006
We'd stopped to get coffee at a faraway lights-and-laughter filled cafe somewhere over the bridge. Behind the counter was a young woman with a ready-steady kind of warmth that spilled over into the orders she took.
When she looked up over a chocolate croissant at us, her smile deepened, " You two are so cute together!" she exclaimed happily, at which point my husband, who has his own unique brand of ready-steady warmth volunteered the information that it just-so-happened-to-be our first anniversary.
She wanted to give us something then, "I wish you'd told me earlier -- I wouldn't have charged you! Can I offer you a piece of cake on the house?" We declined the offer, saying that the interaction in and of itself was gift enough. At which point she said impulsively, "I wish my boyfriend were so thoughtful. I don't know if he'll ever get around to asking about marriage. It's my birthday on the 25th and I'm really not sure he'll remember- especially since there's some championship finals on the same day." There was a simplicity and frankness to her sharing that both touched and surprised us -- and I think what really moved us was her genuine and selfless delight at seeing two happy-to-be-together people. We picked up our coffee and croissant and sat down at a small table in the back to start our next smile conspiracy.
The young woman's name, we found out from another waitress, was Brianna. We were not going to let Brianna's birthday pass by unnoticed. Championship finals or no.
The day before her birthday we made the considerable trip back to the cafe-- with a little gift bag that held a beautifully wrapped forest green box. Inside it was a small stone plaque engraved with this message: Wherever You Go, Go With All Your Heart. We wrote out a small card with it-- wishing her a Happy Birthday and thanking her for the warmth and joyousness she brought to her work. We signed it as Two Travellers, and tucked a smile card underneath the ribbon around the box.
We got to the cafe an hour before Brianna was scheduled to arrive and left the bag with a friendly chef in the back who was more than happy to be our partner in smiles.
Every once in awhile over the next few days I caught myself imagining her coming into the cafe. How perhaps as she was tying on her apron the chef came up to her with the little bag. In my imagination, I see her eyes widen in surprise and wonder. I see her reading the card and casting her mind back over the crowd of customers she's served, trying to single out which of them might have come back to do this -- and recognising-- perhaps for the first time, what a powerful effect her positive presence can have on people she barely knows. And perhaps that recognition will be the very best possible gift she gives herself on her birthday.