“A gin and tonic would be great. Thanks. How are you? It looks like you’ve managed to find the sun when you aren’t tending bar.”
Hank laughed, “Yep. The weather has finally made up its mind. Now if I could get the fish to do the same. How are you?”
“I’m well. I think.”
“Uh oh. Sounds like there’s a story there.” Hank places a napkin in front of Janna, and tops it with her drink. “Hey, was it last month you were in here, all excited about a new man in your life? How’s that going?”
Janna takes a sip and says, “Oh, fine. Fine.”
Hank puts down his bar rag and says, “Fine? Already you are in the fine phase? What happened? Well, I mean… if you wanna talk about it.” Hank smiles and winks because he knows that everyone who comes to sit at the bar alone is wanting to talk about something.
Janna laughed, “No! I mean good! It’s good. Still very good.” She folds and unfolds a corner of her bar napkin. “It’s all good, but it’s uncharted territory, you know?”
“I think so. Let me fill this order and then you can tell me more about this uncharted territory.” Hank walks to the end of the bar to greet a new customer.
As Janna waits for Hank to return, she wonders how to explain what she’s feeling. She turns the cocktail glass on the napkin, first right and then left. She folds another corner and tries to find the words. Every new relationship includes uncharted territory. That’s the very definition of a new relationship. But this time it is different.
This time she was taking a big chance. She was showing herself. Most days she woke up feeling exhilarated at the prospect of being loved for who she was. Some days, however, she woke up feeling like she was dangling over the edge of a cliff.
Hank returned, wiping his hands on a towel. “Are you ready for another drink?”
Janna looked at her now empty glass. “I’m gonna wait a bit. Thanks.”
Hank smiled, “So tell me about this uncharted territory.”
Janna picked up the glass to find a new corner of the napkin. As she folded and unfolded, she told Hank about the excitement of being accepted for who she was – finally. She told Hank that she had always wondered what that would feel like. “But here’s the thing… the more I show of myself, the more I feel like I’m dangling precariously from the edge of a cliff.”
Hank grabbed a new napkin and placed it in front of Janna. “Well, it’s scary showing all of yourself. There are light parts and dark parts to show, but it’s best to show all of those parts.”
Janna reached for the clean napkin. “I know! But the dark parts scare me. Hell, if they scare me, how won’t they scare him away?”
Hank laughed, “It’s in that uncharted territory where the real magic is found. The only way to get there is to present all of your parts. Of course it’s scary and uncomfortable. The other option is to present only the shiny, light parts of yourself, but then you are never truly present in any relationship. Why bother? There’s no magic there. There’s no depth.”
Janna reached for her empty glass. “But what if I scare him off?”
Hank wiped a drink tray and waited for Janna to answer her own question.
Janna slid her empty glass across the bar to Hank. “I know. I know. You’re going to tell me that if I scare him off, then he isn’t the one.”
Hank smiled, “Exactly! Are you ready for that second drink now?”
Janna stood, grabbed her purse and laughed. “Thanks, Hank! I’ve got some uncharted territory to explore. Good luck with the fishing.”