Bitter/Sweet (English Blog #2)

José Israel Cruz


August 18, 2014

I write these words on the morning of Monday, August 11, 2014.

Today, most of my friends started their school semesters—high school, college or otherwise. I instead, am sitting down alone in a Denny’s diner in the heart of San Juan, Puerto Rico. I’m questioning whether I should start studying my French—which I am slightly behind on—or if I should take advantage of my emotional state and try to harness my thoughts and emotions while they’re still fresh. Considering the fact that I’ve already written a paragraph, I guess I’m choosing the latter.

*sigh*… Today is a bittersweet day.

You see, this Denny’s diner in Hato Rey is, like, my spot… You know? We all have that one spot where we feel at home, where we cultivate a lifetime of memories. This Denny’s is my spot. It’s like what Central Perk is to Friends, what MacLaren’s is to How I Met Your Mother, what the RV is to Breaking Bad. You get the idea. This diner was the place where I made some of my most cherished memories this past year. And today? Today it’s very likely that this breakfast will be the last meal I’ll have here for a pretty long while. It’s a very bittersweet feeling.

Departure is right around the corner. I have five days left in my little island. And I’m not going to lie. Although I’m really looking forward to this bridge year, I could really use a few more days. With my friends getting busy with school, and me getting busy with packing, five days seems like way, way too little time. While I am ready to go, I’m still not at all ready to leave. As a result, I feel very anxious… I don’t mind… but yeah, anxiety is this week’s specialty at the diner, and it tastes pretty bitter.

And as I sit in this empty Denny’s diner with my bitter mind and my bitter coffee, I think of all the people who have felt this way. Answer: Everyone. Ever. What I’m feeling is as normal as the flu or a rainy day. I’m convinced that soon enough, life will quickly start feeling sweet again because, as far as I’m concerned, this journey is a roller coaster that’s only going up.

I dream about what my spot will be in Senegal and what memories I will make over there. I think of the people I’ll meet, all of them with their own fears and experiences. I think of the children I’ll befriend, the people I’ll bless, and the people that’ll bless me. And how can that not feel sweet?  I’ve come to accept this bitter anxiety as part of the process of going up the coaster. I mean, who doesn’t feel nervous on a roller coaster? But once I’m up the hill, the joyous thrill begins. And that thrill will be oh so sweet.

José Israel Cruz