My job produced the kind of anxiety that led to nausea every morning as I dressed in a suit and heels. My fingers shook as I hit the elevator button at my office building every morning. At work, I leapt up every time someone stepped into my door. There were 9, 10 or 11 hours of surging anxiety all day. Every day. The only relief, my daily trip to the Starbucks across the street.
I enjoyed the brief reprieve from the stress, yes. But there was also a certain barista. His wiry hair stuck a half a foot into the air, greeting you before he did. Soon he knew my order, especially the second part. A grande ice water with lots and lots of ice. He called me Ice. I called him the Hair.
Many months into my horrible job I was laid off. I hadn't had time to get coffee yet that morning so, I went to Starbucks. The Hair was there. He took his "lunch" break with me. We sat talking, for an hour. I learned his actual name. We admitted a mutual attraction.
That night we went on a date. After sushi and a couple of beers, we stood at a fence in front of a restaurant. He leaned and we kissed. When we parted, I saw the restaurant behind me full of people, standing and applauding. My first standing ovation for a kiss.
The constant anxiety melted away. I felt human for the first time in a long time. I felt like someone who mattered rather than a cog in a machine.