The world is full of people, and each person is carrying a
load of memories, experiences, and concerns that make them see the world
differently from you. Even when a person was raised in the same house and has
the same parents and attended the same church and school, they’re going to
approach the world differently from you.
In fact, even you are going to see things differently
tomorrow than you will today. So, given that we can’t even count on ourselves
to behave in a consistent, normal manner, how do we deal? Here are a few
Give up on normal. Nobody is normal. In fact, if
someone was normal—we’d find them odd. And boring. Celebrate that everyone is
unique and therefore, everyone has something to teach us. Whether you’re
learning that you want to be like them, or that you don’t want to make their
mistakes, everyone is a teacher. And if you’re open, you can be the student.
Recognize that you aren’t everyone’s favorite
flavor of ice cream. Not everyone is going to appreciate your quirkiness. That’s
okay. Actually, that’s good, because they are one less person you have to
devote your energy to. Don’t stew over why they may or may not want to sit at
your table and laugh at your jokes. Let them go and find their own crowd.
Let people grow up. Just because your little sister
used to gallop around, toss her hair like it was a mane, answer questions with
a neigh, and act like a pony twenty years ago, that doesn’t mean she’s going to
embarrass you today. (Although, she might.) But we need to allow people to grow
up and out of their immaturities…or accept them even when they don’t.
Be a buffalo and brave the storms. When buffalos
see an approaching storm, they run into it, while cows run away. But because cows
are notoriously slow, they stay in the storm longer…and they don’t live as long
as the brave buffalos. This is a great analogy on how to handle conflict in an
important relationship. Learn how to have those crucial conversations. Say what
needs to be said. Be honest.
Lean into your emotions, but don’t be dominated
by them. When someone close to you hurts you (and they will) or when you hurt
them (and you will), sit with the emotion, study it, and observe it before you
react. Ask yourself, what can I do with this? Where do I want this relationship
to go? Who do I want to be?
Always be the hero of your story. Don’t play the
victim. Try not to be the villain (although, sometimes that might happen, even
when you don’t want it to.) Every moment of every day, you’re writing your life
story. Make it a good one. Fill it with colorful characters. Be the hero who is
not only saving herself but doing her best to help those around her write their
own very best life stories.
And when it all get’s too
exhausting, find a good book, curl up in a corner with a cup of cocoa, and take
a breather until you’re ready to face the world and all its people again.
Kristy Tate is a USA Today
bestselling novelist, a mom to six, a grandmother to many, she has too many nieces,
nephews, in-laws, and cousins to count (mostly because she hates math, but also
because she has a lot) and she tries to love them all. You can sign up for her
Halfway across the parking lot, Robbie stopped and pulled at his bowtie. “I hate these things.”
tie or the gala?” Maggie straightened her brother’s cheap clip-on tie and had a
vivid flashback of decades past to the senior prom where she’d tried to smooth
down Robbie’s cowlick. Balding had long since cured that problem.
prom had also been held at this place, the Rancho Allegro Country Club. It
seemed like a lifetime ago, and yet, here she was with her brother—again—in
fancy clothes. It was as if she was on a spinning wheel revisiting the same
places with the same people over and over again.
he growled. “All these pompous posers looking down on the rest of us peons.” He
thought about pointing out that with his generous salary, he was probably
richer than most of the people attending the party—not to mention in the world—but
since she knew he hadn’t gone into medicine for the money, she pressed her lips
like your costume,” he said, his gaze flicking over her. “The blue wig should
make you look like a smurf or Marge Simpson, but somehow you pull it off.”
fluttered her wings. “It’s beautiful, isn’t it? Tessa made it.”
lips tightened and a closed expression like a hood passed over his face.
don’t you like her?”
never said I don’t like her.”
clam up whenever she’s around.”
shrugged. “It’s weird you’re friends, that’s all.”
nothing like each other. You’re you and she’s…she drives a Mercedes.”
Mercedes isn’t a sin-mobile.”
elbowed her. “Come on, I have to show my face.” As head of the pediatric
department, he was right. He looped his arm through hers and led her through the
parking lot. “Thanks for being my date tonight.”
passed the valets milling around the Teslas and Land Cruisers. Because Robbie
didn’t believe in valets, they had parked in the neighborhood adjacent to the club.
The lights from the party flickered in the distance and a honky-tonk jazz band
began to play.
problem. I love free food.”
smirked and shook his head. “I don’t get you.”
you do.” She slid him a glance. “If not you, then who?”
right. I do get you, but I just don’t understand how you can spend all day around
food and never get tired of it.”
you get tired of saving people?”
but it’s different.”
it’s not. You save people, I feed them. We’re in the same line of work.”
passed the valets—young, lean men in button down white shirts and tight black
pants—without looking at them. Their parents had taught them that trick—never make
eye contact with someone who might expect a tip. Of course, since they hadn’t actually
parked in the lot, they didn’t tip the handsome young men, but Maggie felt
their questioning glances on her back as she followed Robbie up the stairs.
The Lodge, as locals called it, had been constructed for hunting back when
Rancho Allegro had really been a ranch and coyotes and mountain lions were
nearly as plentiful as the bunnies that currently terrorized gardeners. Strange
how the gentlest of the creatures were the ones who actually survived urbanization.
the lobby, several people vied for Robbie’s attention all at once. Maggie, a
baker without food, and therefore a nobody, wandered off to peruse the refreshment
table, not necessarily because she was hungry, but because she liked looking at
beautiful food displays.
had to stop herself from whistling in admiration. The caterers, men and women dressed
in black, moved like perfectly choreographed dancers around the room bearing
trays that looked more like portable art than appetizers. Edible art,
the phrase came to Maggie’s mind and rested there. Could she try and copy any
of this in her bakery?
fingers itched for her phone, but she’d left it at home. She wished she could
take pictures of this. Who were the caterers? Maybe she should skirt around
outside to catch a glimpse of their van. Hopefully, it would have a logo on it.
nose wrinkled when she spotted asparagus spears wrapped in a flakey crust and a
piece of bacon. She would never understand the compulsion to ruin perfectly
good baked goods by partnering them with vegetables.
no donuts?” Tessa, dressed as Florence Nightengale, appeared at her side. “They
should have hired Maggie’s muffins.”
turned and gave her friend a hug. “Maybe next time.” Robbie was right, they
were an unlikely pair. Tall and curvy Maggie dominated over pixie-like Tessa.
Maggie was a red-headed buzzard while Tessa was as blond as Tinker-bell.
nodded. “Robbie said he’d recommend me.”
smiled and said, “that’s great,” but her gaze darted around the room. Was she looking
for Robbie? Or someone else? “The costume looks really good on you.”
flushed and straightened Maggie’s wings. “I love making beautiful things even more
looks great here, doesn’t it?” Maggie said, glancing around.
Tessa said with a touch of pride. “My dad wondered if they were going to cancel
because of yesterday’s earthquake, but the Lodge wasn’t damaged. Thankfully.”
damage at your store?”
I couldn’t take care of myself. How about the bakery?”
lot of rattling pots and pans, but not much else.”
bumped her with her hip. “We’re lucky.”
wished that were true. Maggie’s parents used to say she was their lucky penny,
and she’d always felt that way…until Peter got sick. Sometimes she felt like
she’d been trying to win her way back into Lady Luck’s good favor ever since.
band, playing on a soundstage across the patio, began Conga and a line
took Maggie’s hand. “Want to dance?”
but first let me check my purse.”
winced when she saw Maggie’s old beat-up leather satchel. It matched the
costume like paper bag accessorized a tuxedo, but Maggie refused to be
embarrassed. She loved her purse—she’d had it for nearly a decade. And yes, it
looked like the poor country cousin among all the Coaches and Kate Spades on
the shelf, but she didn’t care.
strolled into the country club and sought out Tessa. Because of her diminutive
size, she was often easy to miss. Most of the guests were wearing masks, but Tessa
had told him she’d be wearing a Florence Nightingale costume. He spotted her dancing
with a tall, blue-haired yet beautiful butterfly.
he was new to Rancho Allegro, he only knew a handful of the guests. His uncle, Tessa
father, was the president of the St. John’s hospital chain and had insisted he
attend. Even though Steven was probably now worth more than his Uncle Jack, it
was still hard to deny Jack anything. The family still kowtowed to the rich uncle…even
when there were, now, richer cousins.
he crossed the patio, something crinkled beneath his shoe. Given the noise—the music,
the chatter, the clattering cutlery—he almost missed it. What was it that
people said about the sound of falling coins—everybody heard it because people
heard what they wanted to hear? A hundred-dollar bill. Steven stooped and
picked it up. Someone must have dropped it.
glanced around at all the bejeweled people in their fancy costumes. Only one
man wasn’t in a costume—although he was wearing a bowtie. Did he think that was
most crowds, someone would be frantically searching for the lost bill, but
here, no one seemed to notice. Still, it had to have been an accident. He held
it up and slowly turned, hoping someone would take note. Someone did. His
take that.” Mitch, dressed as a pirate, moved to swipe it from his hand.
tightened his grip on the bill and shoved it into his pocket, away from his
Mitch complained. “This is a fund raiser. I’m just trying to raise funds.”
tried not to roll his eyes. “If I can’t find the owner, I’ll give this to someone
who needs it.”
hospital needs it, you loon.” He waved his saber at the party. “That’s why we’re
is a hundred-dollar bill. It cost, what? Three-hundred dollars to get in here?
Besides, I already made a generous donation. I’m going to give this to someone
going to give it to…” Glancing around the room, he debated: a valet? One of the
servers? He could wait and donate it to one of the regular charities on his
list: the Red Cross, St. Judes Medical Research, or Orange Wood Foster Homes.
then it would weigh on him and Mitch would harass him. His gaze landed on the
coat check. One scruffy leather satchel stood out from the rest. He strode over
to the bored-looking girl behind the counter.
that purse,” he pointed at the satchel.
one?” Surprise for a moment overrode the girl’s bored expression. She obviously
didn’t think a man in a Zorro cape would be interested in a scuffed leather
satchel. “It belongs to my girlfriend.”
now you’re a liar,” Mitch whispered in his ear.
girl narrowed her lids and tightened her lips. “I can’t give out any of the
purses unless you have a ticket.”
hurried to placate her. “I just want you tuck this into it.” He pulled out the
bill and showed it to the girl. “Can you do that?”
a crazy person,” Mitch said.
like a fox,” Aunt Miriam said from behind him. Approaching eighty, she looked and
acted like someone nearly half her age. Tonight, she was dressed as a flapper. She
snaked her arm around his waist and looped the other through Mitch’s arm. “A
silver fox! How did two of my favorite boys ever grow to be so old and yet so handsome?”
flushed. “The same could be said of you, Mom.”
Aunt Miriam she shook her long cigarette holder in Mitch’s face. “I don’t want
anyone to know I’m old enough to belong to you.” She dropped her voice to a
whisper. “You could pretend I’m your date.”
could,” Mitch said, pulling away. “But I won’t.” He gave Steven the stink eye. “Let’s
can ignore me, but you better not ignore your wife,” Aunt Miriam said, nodding
at the approaching Lydia, who was wearing a Queen of Hearts costume.
audibly groaned, but also grinned.
were lots of things Steven didn’t admire about his cousin, but he did envy him
his long and happy marriage. Mitch had married ten years before him and
hopefully would be married for many years after. Lydia had been good for him.
butterfly he’d noticed earlier approached the coat check and handed the girl
her ticket. He watched as the girl handed the butterfly the beat-up purse that
now carried his one-hundred dollar bill.
gaze met the girl’s.
girlfriend, huh?” the girl asked.
this was a breach of some sort of hired-help etiquette.
Miriam perked up. “Your girlfriend?”
grinned. “Yeah, about that, Steven?”
rubbed his chin and decided to go along with it. “There you are,” he said. “I’ve
been looking for you.”
me?” The butterfly put her hand on her chest. Most of her face was covered by a
jewel-studded mask, but her lips were full, red and her skin creamy and white. Definitely
braced his shoulder, determined to carry through with his charade. “I want to introduce
you to my Aunt Miriam and cousin Mitch.”
butterfly blinked and took Mitch’s extended hand. “I’m Grace,” she said.
on, Grace,” Steven said, taking her hand and pulling her toward the dance floor
and away from his aunt and laughing cousin.
stumbled after him until they reached the dancing couples. “I don’t know who
you are or what you’re thinking,” she began.
silenced her by putting his finger on her lips. “Just go along with me, please.
There’s a hundred-dollar bill in your purse for your trouble.”
he kissed her.
warm lips spread a flurry of emotions through Maggie. Should she slap him? Push
him away? Scream at him…but…oh…was this what kissing was all about? How long
had it been since she’d been kissed like this? Maybe never.
loved Peter. She had loved kissing Peter. But near the end, the kisses had been
so mixed up in grief and pain, they’d just as soon make her cry as curl her
toes in pleasure…like this one did.
must this person think of her? What made him think he could just kiss her like
this? Maybe he kissed everyone like this. She couldn’t be someone special in
his life since he had only just met her…but he hadn’t really met her, had he?
It wasn’t as if they’d been properly introduced.
she’d given him her middle name.
this kiss, though…
really should end it. This was exactly the sort of privileged behavior her
brother and parents were always spouting off about. Rich people who thought they
could do whatever they wanted with little or no regard for who they stepped on…or
this kiss. It was like kissing Clark Gable, or Gary Grant, or…Zorro.
pulled away. She was grateful to see he wore a dazed expression.
touched her lips. “What was that?”
he said, “was worthy of an encore.” And he kissed her again.
time, Maggie, forgetting all about social injustice, leaned in and gave herself
into pleasure. It rocked her world. Shook her to the core. Made her legs shake.
took her a moment to realize that not only was her world rocking, but the lights
stringing above her were wildly swinging. The band had stopped playing. Pillars
bearing lanterns fell with a crash and glass shattered. The hospitality tent collapsed
and one of the curtains fell into an open fire pit.
still Zorro held her in his arms. In fact, he tightened the embrace, making it
more protective than sensual.
lights went out. Women screamed and men shouted. All around her, panicked people
pushed and pulled. Zorro grabbed her hand and pulled her through the chaos. She
staggered after him, barely seeing through the smoke and din.
damp and cold seeped through Maggie’s flimsy shoes as she crossed the lawn.
Zorro took her elbow and steered her through the parking lot, passing the
valets who had gathered into a tight bunch beneath the now catawampus awning.
Here, away from the party, the moonlight shone clearer.
blinked when she realized it wasn’t Zorro who had led her through the chaos,
but her brother.
What the heck?”
stopped and stared at her. “What’s your problem?”
don’t have a problem,” she said.
sound like you do.” He stepped closer. “Who was that guy you were kissing?”
floundered for an acceptable answer and finally came up with, “I don’t know.”