Leah BeilhartComment

Tea For One

Leah BeilhartComment

A short reflection. There's always so much to learn about ourselves. 

I found myself sitting in this little cafe again. I'm not too keen about cold, rainy days, so I scooted in quickly and found a seat by the window. The breeze still found a way to my shoulders and I zipped up my jacket and filed through their dictionary of teas. The waiter suggested their Masala Chai which I gladly paired with Idlis (South Indian steamed dumplings) and Thai Tom Kha Soup. 

Small bells continued to ding throughout the room as others chimed in their waiter for drinks. An older gentleman, decorated like an Native American Christmas tree, walked in and sat near me. Feathers, charms, and colored fabrics wrapped around his head and character painted across his beard. He smelled of cooked onions and the stench battled with the newly lit incense that was placed behind me. I approached him and asked if I could photograph him and he said, "In turn for the bowl of soup you just described to me. Trade for trade." I didn't have anymore cash on me to spend, because I left my wallet in the car, so instead I spent a few more minutes hearing his tales and I relocated to another section in the cafe. After resettling in a new cushion I pulled out some paper to write my boyfriend a letter. I know I can easily write him an email, but despite our advances in technology, especially with how we can stay more connected with our soldiers, you can't eliminate the intimacy, purity, and sentiment of a hand written letter. 

So, after two pots of tea and three orders of food, I thought of a good friend. Her name is Kelly and she won the opportunity to spend a year overseas in Indonesia on a Fulbright scholarship. I had trouble responding to her emails these past few weeks and I have to openly admit it was because of jealousy. It will be the first year that I haven't ventured outside from the country (despite being in Europe this past winter break). That feeling of being a quote on quote "adult" really punched me in the gut. Completing my Masters, getting a new car, and signing on to a new lease, were small financial reminders that said it wouldn't be smart for me to pick up and go as usual. I have been trying to fulfill that desire to leave by using my only day off during the week to take day road trips. But even then, it's not satisfying because I'm still surrounded by a culture I'm too familiar with.

When I spoke with Kelly on Skype for a moment before her power blew out (they were in a drought until our phone call and then it started pouring), I opened up to her about everything I was feeling. But I did also tell her that despite my envy, that I wouldn't want to hear about anyone else doing it. I don't look up to too many young women in my life and here's a woman younger than me who's always taking steps forward and that's what is so admirable about her. She was entertaining finding a way to bring me over and I cut her off and said that despite how much I wanted to be there with her, that this is her moment and I'm not meant to be a part of that. I know when I'm being selfish and I can recognize that this isn't my time and I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I walked into her journey.

So far, my time in Asheville has been challenging me to be patient. I see most people reflect changes over a year, but I compare my growth within each new place I live. But I'm guilty for overwhelming myself with a mental list of tasks I need to complete in order to be a better person. I have burned myself out many times, but I have finally accepted I'll never be perfect. If I woke up each day and there wasn't something new to learn, I don't think it would really be worth it. My boyfriend loves a beautiful, short saying: Anocora Imparo - I'm still learning. What's important is to not use those words as an excuse, but to adopt it as a personal declaration to keep exploring, studying, and adapting.