I am moving on Friday, and I am just a little nervous. The good news is that I am moving just a couple of miles across town and taking several close friends along with me. But we are headed from the familiar land of predictable routine into the abyss of the relative unknown, and I know there are bound to be strangers.
As of this past Sunday, Weight Watchers relocated their Alameda meeting from Webster Street to the interior of the mall formerly known as Towne Centre. If you’re thinking, “Oh, Alice – Get a grip,” you haven’t lived in Alameda long enough to know that for someone who rarely leaves town and has a six minute work commute, “across the island” can translate to “in a galaxy far away.”
Almost every Friday morning for more than five years, I parked my car in front of Webster Street’s Wescafe and staggered across to the green awning-ed Garden Cleaners, juggling an awkward bundle of Si’s dirty plaid shirts, tangled metal hangers and clear plastic bags. I picked up the ones left there the previous Friday and carried them back to my car. Then I bought coffee and the occasional English Breakfast tea for my buddy and headed to my 7:30 a.m. Weight Watcher meeting up the block.
I am not exaggerating when I say that our 7:30 a.m. Friday group is extraordinary (don’t tell the other groups, but I know we are the best). The collective personalities of its members give our group a spirit and energy of its own. It’s an empathetic and personable beast, waging epic battle against a formidable foe. On a good day you hear the triumphant cry, “You’re down!” And on a bad one, a softer gentler sigh, and something like, “Did you expect this outcome?”
Some of us have been in the trenches together for years. The newer members who decide to stay for more than a few meetings assimilate quickly and become part of the whole. There are no “mean girl” cliques, however there are established territories. We each gravitate toward our respective red chairs within the room, or at the least a specific row. Mine is front row side.
It’s my chair. If I am late and it’s taken, I am gracious and take a different seat but for the next 45 minutes I tend to wiggle in discomfort. And on Friday, this corner of my world turns upside down.
Several weeks ago our fearless leader, Julie, gave us notice so we could get used to the idea. We didn’t know when, but we knew it was coming. And finally last week she announced it was time. She wrote the new address in teal marker on the white board, and told us that the new location was inside the mall, next to “See’s Candy.”
See’s… I KNOW!
I smell a dark force lurking here, cloaked in the scent of almonds, caramel and dark chocolate. The good news for someone trying desperately to reach the ever-illusive goal number and achieve coveted “Lifetime Member” status is that “See’s” doesn’t open until 10 a.m.
So I dodged a bullet.
But how will I know which chair is my chair? Will it still be red? And what will happen to Monica, Miguel and the adorable Ralphie at Wescafe without a Southshore location? Will I “pull a Petraeus” and stray to the Starbuck’s side? And my long term relationship with Garden Cleaners? This one relocation decision will have rippling repercussions on many small West End business owners.
OK, say it. Call me a drama queen. But honestly I had a nightmare along the lines of the “showing-up-for-school-in-your-underwear” thing — the first day at a new high school. Most of my middle school friends will be heading to the same school, and we’re even bringing the cool teacher along. But what will the new kids be like? And just how long will it take to get my much thinner fanny from Bay Street into the proper red chair? (I had the old trip timed to the second…)
Oh, Friday — What lies in store for me? Stress can be a trigger for poor food-related choices.
Breathe, Alice. And step away from the Nuts and Chews.