What would you do?

For the four years I’ve been in my house, my living room had been a mismatched-on-purpose-with-a-bohemian-vibe space with deep, rusty orange walls.  Visitors always mentioned how cozy it was…  I’d describe it as being like a warm hug, inviting you to curl up and get comfy.  That old room is gone, replaced with a totally different vibe. 

So why change it?  Sometimes things just need to change for the sheer purpose of needing something different.  There’s no real reason.  But that’s not what this story is about.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve painted walls, purchased a fantastic Chesterfield-inspired leather sofa (that I am in love with), re-purposed furniture I already had and picked up a rockin’ vintage piece from a great shop called findfurnish in NE Minneapolis.  I hung my own artwork on the walls.  Things were coming together nicely. 

The past several days I’ve been searching for one final piece to complete the room… something to set a lamp on, opposite from its match on the other side of my couch.  That shouldn’t be too difficult, right?  With the way the room is laid out, an end table was too big.  It made the corner look cluttered.  A floral stand was too tall.  I refused to buy one of those pressed wood cube shelf things (i.e. the Ikea cubed system that everyone and their mom seems to own.)

Being someone who does things all the way or not at all, it was bugging the crap out of me that I couldn’t come up with a solution.

Then, I found it.  I was walking through – of all places – the homegrown corporate conglomerate’s shop (otherwise known as Target) and eyed a tall, bamboo vase.  It was the perfect size and color.  I stood there in the aisle racking my brain on how to transform it into a lamp stand.  With a firm plan in place, I tucked it under my arm, picked up a few more things and headed to pay.

I made small talk with the cashier and as she went to ring up the vase, I mentioned to her that I had noticed the tag had fallen off inside (a tag had fallen out when I had been looking at it in the aisle and I just assumed it was for that.)  She pulled it out and scanned it.

She read off the description asking me if that sounded right.  All I heard was the word “bamboo.”

“Yep, that’s right.” I said.

“For $9.99, sounds good.” she said at the same exact time.  It took a split second for me to realize it was the wrong tag inside the vase and she was undercharging me by $20.  But in that split second, she completed the transaction and handed me the receipt.

“Have a nice day!” she said with a smile.  She had no idea it was wrong. 

“You too,” I mustered, not sure what to do. She had already started ringing up the next person.  I walked out to my car, tossed my purchases in the back seat and sat in the drivers seat for a good 20 minutes thinking about what to do. 

I know what a lot of people’s first reaction might be.  It’s fucking Target, they won’t miss $20.  My inner cynic thought the same exact thing for a moment.  I had an opportunity to stick it to the “man” and save myself 20 bucks.

But there was a nagging in my gut.  No matter how much I dislike corporate conglomerates with too much power (and let’s not get started on how hypocritical I am being by shopping there to begin with) — I dislike liars and cheats even more.  I pride myself on never, ever being either of those things, no matter what, and I would never feel right about it if I just let it go.

I grabbed the vase and my receipt and walked back into the store to the customer service desk.

“I have a weird situation for you,” I said to the young woman behind the desk and proceeded to explain to her what had happened.  She was smiling from ear-to-ear as she corrected the mistake and ran my card to make up the difference.

“Thanks,” I said when she handed me the new receipt.

“Thanks for coming back in,” she said back.  “That was really cool.”

I smiled and told her to have a goodnight, instantly feeling balanced again as I walked back out to my car.

What would you have done?

Just Flow With It, Part 3

“Holy shit!” I said out loud as a green mini-van swerved back into its lane.  It took a minute to catch my breath following the close call on I-35 along the edge of Duluth.

“Mother f…” I stopped myself.  You’re fine, I said under my breath. I was startled, but realized how lucky I was to still be on the road.  

I noticed that I needed gas as my heart rate slowed back to normal, so I pulled off at the next exit to fill up.  As I headed back towards the interstate, I noticed the all-to-familiar orange construction signs blocking the ramp to get back on.  I figured there had to be a detour so I stayed on the country road, assuming I’d hop back on 35 in the next town.

The next town passed in the blink of an eye with no access to the freeway, so I kept going, getting a little nervous as the road started to twist and turn through the countryside.  I whipped out my iPhone to pull up a map and figure out where I was, but had no signal.

Awesome, I thought.  I had already driven 14 miles south and really didn’t want to backtrack.  Small towns peppered the two-lane highway, but there was no where to stop and ask for directions.  I came to the end of the highway and had to either turn left or right.  I sat at the stop sign, trying to decide what to do.  My natural instinct was to turn left, because I had turned right off I-35, but the road had turned so many times, I had no idea what direction I was even going in anymore.

I glanced quickly to the right as I was about to turn left against my better judgement and noticed a small sign that said “Veterans Evergreen Memorial Scenic Highway.”  So right I went.  Within a couple of miles I  found myself cruising through towering pines that blocked the sun, save the limited rays that made it through the cover.  It made the world around me glisten.  The highway twisted and turned, rolled up and down and crossed over rivers that were exceptionally high due to the recent historic rainfall.  It was absolutely breathtaking, and for a while, I forgot that I was even lost. 

An oncoming car snapped me “awake” and I realized again that I needed to know where I was.  I pulled out my phone again and found a roaming signal.  Slowly a map loaded and I learned that I had been cruising parallel with the freeway.  Breathing a sigh of relief, I decided to keep rolling on this interesting road.

Forty miles later I could tell  I was getting closer to the interstate.  The towns were closer together with higher populations.  I found myself wishing I had stopped to take photos before returning to civilization, however I had been so preoccupied in making sure I wasn’t inadvertently driving to Canada, that it hadn’t really crossed my mind.

I turned around a bend onto a small bridge and slammed on my brakes as I coasted into the shoulder.  I grabbed my camera and with adrenaline running from the risk of getting nailed by a car, I got off a few shots without checking the settings first.  A car going the opposite direction pulled up slowly on the shoulder opposite of me.  It was a sheriff. 

“Everything ok?” he asked me as I held my camera behind my back.

“Yes sir,” I replied, slipping back into the driver’s seat of my car.  I snapped my belt back on, signaled and eased back onto the highway.  My heart was racing, wondering if he was going to whip around and pull me over.  What law could I possibly have been breaking?

Before I could worry about it any further, the ramp onto the freeway presented itself and I quickly made my way back onto the express route home to the city.

The rest of the drive home, I thought about the detour I had taken.  The rough and scary beginning, the search for the correct path, the beautiful revelations along the way, the potential roadblock and eventually the safe passage home.  I thought about the parallels to my own life and it made me feel a little better about the “road” I’ve been on.

Getting lost last night felt almost organic.  Like it was supposed to happen.  Perhaps I think too deeply about things, but I think there are insights to life all around us in some of the most unexpected places.  You just have to be open to seeing it. 

So go on then.  Get lost.  

A Ride Through the City

With the sleeves of my Orange Crush t-shirt tucked up under the straps of my bra, determined to avoid the full-fledged “farmers tan” that I have been dangerously flirting with, I pushed the right pedal of my bike down and started to roll forward on the street in front of my house.
I attached my other foot to the pedal as I hung a left and started towards my favorite destination on two wheels.  I hadn’t been drinking enough water and I could feel it.
“Don’t quit,” I told myself under my breath.  I pushed forward and hopped onto the bike-only trail system, which was filled with cyclists – much like the roadways are with cars.  There’s a reason Minneapolis has been named the best biking city more than once. 
I rode with the flow, enjoying the creek and the flourishing plant life as I made my way closer to the lake.  I passed by one of the many city parks and saw the playground filled with kids crawling all over the jungle gym and a couple of baseball games in progress across the field. 
I pulled up next to an older woman standing on the corner with her dog and dropped one foot to the pavement as we waited for the light to turn green.
“Good morning,” she said to me with a grin. 
“Morning,” I replied.
“What a beautiful day,” she stated.  I nodded in agreement as the light gave us permission to cross. 
“Enjoy it!” I said to her with a smile as I pushed off towards the other side of the street. 
“You too, dear!”
I smiled as I rode on and entered the lake trails.  This place makes people happy, I thought.  The pedestrians walking opposite of me on their own trail proved it to be true.  I saw smile after smile and heard laughter more often than not. 
God, I loved this place.  I rode hard, pushing myself further than I had in awhile.  It felt amazing.  I stopped for a water break at the pavilion and sat on the edge of the water, taking in the view.  The sun reflected off the lake as sailboats navigated through the glistening waters.
I slid my water bottle back in its cage and smiled at the words tattooed on my left arm.
“defy gravity.”
I jumped back on my bike, feeling genuinely happy, knowing this was only the beginning…