Welcome back to this month’s edition of Café Sessions. If you’re new here…hello! I’m Steve, your friendly community barista, slanging caffeinated drinks up at Rise Café at Enterprise Coworking RiNo. For me, January ended as February began…in a whirlwind.
The news of Kobe Bryant shook me down to my core, as it did for millions of others around the world. So, we’re going to get serious and talk about that for a bit. But to lighten things up we’ll move onto a few lighter topics as well. Many of us are no doubt riding the struggle bus today after the Superbowl last night, and I’ll see if I can’t make you feel just a little better.
Last, we’ll speak a little to the ridiculousness of February 14th, Valentines Day, or as I like to call it, Singles Awareness Day, and I’ll help any like-minded individuals with what you can do to make it through.
A Conversation on Grief
The last Sunday in January began as a typical Sunday for me. I had been out late the night before at my usual watering hole so rolling out of bed could be seen as an impressive feat. Luckily a Bloody Mary was waiting for me at Brunch with some friends.
I was sitting there at the table, dusting the cobwebs from the fuzzy corners of my mind while we exchanged stories from the night before. From here the day took a turn. A shriek came from the table beside me followed by a, “there’s no way this is true.”
I looked over at the girl beside me with her palm over her mouth, eyes fixed on her phone screen. Her friend across from her was confused. The table was silent.
From another table in the vicinity came a similar shriek accompanied by an incredulous and drawn out “No.”
For the next sixty seconds my head swiveled back and forth as more people received these shocking alerts on their phones. And then came mine:
NBA Legend Kobe Bryant Killed in Helicopter Crash
My stomach dropped as my vison coalesced around my screen. Cold sweat beaded atop my hot, flush forehead. I checked the source of the article, letting out a great sigh when I saw it was written by TMZ. Typical media jump-the-gun click bait, I thought.
But this relief was destroyed in an instant when twitter went off and the trusted sites that I follow began to share the same news. Kobe, the Black Mamba, my childhood hero, was dead.
Our table was silent for some time as we scanned article after article for more details. It was hard to be sure what was true. Each source said something slightly different.
I put my phone away as I realized that there was no amount of new information that would change the fact that Kobe had died. And for the first time in my life, I cried for a celebrity.
I have to admit, I felt self-conscious. I used my napkin to blot my tears. I blew my nose and kept my eyes from contact with anyone. I didn’t know this person, and yet his death felt personal. Was I alone in feeling this?
Turns out that all I had to do was look up at my friends. Red, glossy eyes all around attempted to avoid one another. The entire restaurant had gone silent. The background music sounded uncomfortably out of place.
We began to talk to each other at the table, not in speculation, but in reverence. We shared what Kobe meant to us and the roles in our lives starting as kids and to today.
You see, remembering Kobe was like remembering happiness as a kid growing up in LA. The man was a God. He made us believe in the impossible—down by 10 with 15 seconds on the clock—I thought he we could win any game. That was the Mamba mentality. We were unstoppable because we had Kobe. He rejuvenated a generation of Lakers fans that will forever be grateful for all he did in the purple and gold. And still, I can’t help but to feel like he was destined for more.
And then the news that his daughter was on board surfaced. Again, we sunk into despair.
My friends and I handled the news the only way we knew how. We drank. I’m not condoning the method of medication. I’m only saying that to be with my close friends, sharing this grief over drinks and stories, was much better than dealing with it alone and sober. Because through it all, I learned something.
The death of Kobe and his daughter shook everyone. It brought us face to face with the reminder that death is unpredictable and impartial. Death is a reality to be faced by anybody at any time. So, what do we do with this knowledge? We really only have two choices: Become consumed by the fear of death and never truly live, or rebel against its inevitability and live every day with the people we love, doing the things we love.
I learned too that it’s okay to grieve for celebrities. Everyone around me was grieving that Sunday. That shows that he meant something to each of us, regardless of the fact that we didn’t “know” Kobe. Each of us had our own private relationship with the man. Afterall, he was the king of the city of my youth. You can’t tell the history of LA without talking about Kobe. The man defined a culture for twenty years.
Perhaps the hardest thing to grasp was the fact that he was beginning a new post-basketball chapter of his life. I, for what its worth, was looking forward to seeing what he’d make of it.
With any death that is close to your heart, take the time to grieve. But grieve by remembering the life they had and the legacy they left behind. I came across one of my favorite quotes this week: “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
Let’s Get Through Today Together
The day after the Superbowl, AKA “National Hangover Day”—I ask myself every year why this day isn’t a national holiday. I know I’m not alone on that. If it’s not the alcohol that’s bringing you down, then its surely the overindulgence of fatty food that’s creating the bowling ball in your gut upon waking. Either way, I feel your pain.
We can only dwell on the “Why not’s” for so long before we must move on, so here I am yet again offering my guidance on how to make paying for our sins a little more bearable.
If you have the days, just take a sick day. If you’re feeling as bad as I am on Superbowl Monday, there’s nothing wrong with taking a personal day to sleep it off and get your mind right. Especially if your team lost…though I’m sure there is an equal need for a personal day if your team won.
They say the day after the Superbowl creates more “sick at home” employees than any other day of the year. Why fight that statistic?
For those of you who must come into the office, do yourself a favor and grab a breakfast burrito and Gatorade from Rise Café. While you’re at it, have me whip up a caffeine-rich beverage to get your mind right. We’re all in this together. I got you.
The Valentine’s Day Survival Guide
It has never bothered me being single. Relationships are great. I’ve been very happy in relationships, but I’ve also been very unhappy in relationships. The same goes for being single. We are either happy or unhappy in our everyday lives regardless of our relationship status so why do so many people claim to be unhappy because of being single on the dreaded February 14th?
Valentine’s Day was created, other than to simply sell cards, to celebrate the love between two people. Perhaps it’s our increased FOMO for every and all experiences (social media's fault?), but when we see a celebration for something positive, we automatically associate a negative as it's opposite. We separate people into the “haves” and “have nots”, rather than just being cool with some people having things that you may not even want.
What I’m trying to say is this: there’s nothing wrong with being single. It’s not a negative term, at least it was never meant to be. It’s our own self-consciousness at play here—the assumption that something is wrong because you do not possess something. And it makes us miserable.
We’ve learned to deal with this misery together by getting with other singles, guzzling bottles of wine, eating our weight in ice cream from the tub, and watching some romantic comedy that ultimately reinforces the negative connotation of being single. And I think this is wrong.
To get through this holy of days, we should simply not let it get to us. Don’t let it be a holiday. Go about your day as if it were any other day, stay away from social media, and be happy for those receiving flowers or chocolates.
If you’re desperate for a relationship, then I have good news for you. The Day after Valentine’s Day is Singles Awareness Day. More relationships form on this day than any other day of the year, though I’ve never heard of a good relationship formed from desperation. How about instead you try to find happiness through other means, and let the relationship fall in place as it should, naturally.
If you have a topic or question you’d like Steve to tackle for next month, don’t hesitate to ask! Submit an anonymous question or problem here. No name or email is required.