19 March 2021

I wish I had sat her down before

“My marriage is totally legit!!” she exclaimed.
“No, it is not. I have never heard of getting married thru proxy.”
“I am telling you. Look it up.”

That was the most excited I had ever seen Sydney in the time that I had gotten to know her. Very quiet and even keeled, I had rarely seen her that animated before.

She was one more of those folks at Barrel House Coffee Company that I loved meeting every time I dropped by for coffee. The staff there – Kevin (and his socks!), Tim, Autumn, Baylee, Allison… are simply outstanding. Very friendly and always makes you feel at ease. True southern hospitality that you would expect from a small rural town called Ballground in Georgia.

So, I did Google up “proxy marriage”. And apparently, it is a thing. You can get married in certain states in the USA without one of the spouses being present. (In one particular state, both can be absent!). Turns out Sydney’s husband – Jack – is in military service and did not make it.

However, the good news was that her husband was coming in to Ballground from his service in a few weeks and they were both going to drive to Tacoma, WA where he was getting relocated and they were going to start their lives together.

A couple of days before they left, I had asked her if she would be open to sitting down with me and telling me her life story. She readily agreed.

What an eye opening exercise it was!! I had no idea beneath that calm and composed exterior how much of life ordeals she had been thru. Most of it is too private for me to publish in a public story but an example would be she telling me growing up as a toddler wondering at times why she could meet her mom only once a week. That too in a church. Unlike any other friend of hers. Turns out her mom had lost custody – some entanglement with drugs, jail, missed court appointment etc. The poor mom – who went thru depression and was bipolar – had a very disturbing and difficult life herself, it seemed.

Meanwhile, as Sydney and her siblings bounced around between step moms and all that, the grandparents seemed to offer an oasis of support. “My grandma is like my mom in my life”, she summarized.

Allow me to fast forward thru some of the private details – parts of which were difficult for me to hear as I had flashbacks of my own daughters.

“So, what do you want to be when you grow up?”
“I love coffee. I am fairly creative. I think I want to be a barista”
… and after some more thought, added -“Perhaps open up a coffee house some day, like this.”

As my slotted hour was coming to an end, I had to ask her one of my usual questions….

“So, what should l learn from your life?”
Sydney, characteristically, kept quiet for a few seconds and slowly came out with the answer:

“You are capable of more than what you think. You can always be a good person. No matter how the other person is, what you want to be is your personal choice”.

I have to admit that I was taken aback by the sagacity and wisdom of words from the mouth of a twenty-something-year old!!

Sydney Haynes Gobble, here is wishing you a safe and exciting cross country trip and a great journey in life. I have no doubt you will make something great out of your life. We will surely be there to cheer you up from the sidelines!!


P.S. At the time of going to press with this post, I found out that Sydney has indeed landed herself a job as a barista in Washington state! Yay!!

Posted March 19, 2021 by Rajib Roy in category "Intersection Points

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