It is seven thirty on a brisk Saturday morning. I am standing in line at Heirloom waiting my turn to place my order, the same order I place every Saturday: biscuit sandwich with egg, white cheddar and pesto and a cup of coffee. On this day, there's a young woman and a couple in front of me in line. I hear the young lady, who is obviously friends with the couple, say "Oh! I left my wallet with my purse. Let me go get it." I watch her walk towards a table. She places her hand on her toddler's head who is sitting in a highchair as she reaches for her purse. My focus turns back to the couple she's left waiting in line.
I notice the woman's shoes first, stylish heeled bootlets. She's wearing skinny jeans or leggings that look like jeans with a fur vest that I can only hope is fake, but looks real. I almost want to reach out and pet her vest, just to see if I can tell if it is real fur or not. Her long blond hair is perfectly combed and curled, not a strand out of place and her makeup looks like it was applied by a professional. The woman is bouncing a drooly baby in her arms, alternating between saying things to her husband like "Ooh, let's get one of those poptarts!" and baby talking to her baby. "Who's the cutest thing in the world? Who is?" She continues this back and forth exchange even after her husband starts to place the order.
Her friend comes back with her wallet and steps in line behind me. I turn to her and tell her to go ahead. She looks at me and says with surprise "Are you sure?!?" I shake my head and say "Yes. You guys are together. You should order with them." She says "thank you!" as she steps in front of me in the line. I notice that she is dressed in a similar fashion: skinny jeans/leggings and a sweater instead of a fur vest. The difference is, she is not pristine. Her sweater is twisted to one side with the belt hanging loose to drag near the floor. Her heeled boots are more worn looking and her hair is already escaping the clip she'd used to pin it back. She seems tired and slouches and in fact she had to walk back to the table twice because she'd forgotten the first time why she had even gone over there.
I couldn't help but feel a little sympathetic for the disheveled friend. I could tell she was trying and I also knew that if she had not been meeting her friends there on this morning, she would have been content to be there in her sweats with her hair pulled into a messy pony tail. The one bouncing the baby in her arms just made it look too easy, too perfect. I wanted to whisper to the woman in front me "it's not a competition. you are equally beautiful." I could sense the small of wave of frustration as she looked at her friend bouncing that baby and how easy she made it all look. And again, I wanted to whisper in her ear "it is not as easy for her as she makes it look. your friend has bad days too." I wanted to tell her those things not so that she would find comfort in her friend's possible bad days, but so that she would find ease in the knowledge that she is not alone in her struggles.
We are not alone in our struggles. Some of us just have days where we are better at hiding it than others.