Yesterday at dinner, I decided on the “make-your-own pasta” option in the dining hall. The student staffing the pasta station that night really knows what she’s doing. I’m a regular customer when she’s working. Noodles, chicken, Alfredo sauce, and a spoonful of roasted red pepper pesto. She remembers every time which impressed the other student I was standing in line with that evening. I chose the white noodles as they were fancy noodles that night. How fancy were they? Fancy enough for a noodle but not enough to make me look up the exact type.
Ok, I looked it up. They are called Fusilli Lisci.
I sat with a few of my students for dinner that night, thoroughly enjoying my bowl of yum, when lo and behold there it was: a wheat noodle. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve got nothing against the wheat noodles. During orientation season when we have the pasta bar I’m always mixing it up with my noodle selections. But in that moment it became clear that this wheat noodle was like a bonus fry.
You know, the bonus fry that generally happens if you go to Burger King, order the onion rings (don’t act like you’re better than me now that you know I like BK onion rings). But you go and order the onion rings and then BAM. Bonus fry. Maybe your bonus fry is at the bottom of your McDonald’s bag. Although let’s be honest you have to search the bag for those right away. McDonald’s fries only have limited quality assurance time. No time to find one of those after you’ve already eaten the other fries and your 10-piece chicken nuggets.
[side note: if you have time, PLEASE watch Jim Gaffigan’s stand up about McDonald’s. HILARIOUS.]
The point is, these are exciting things in unexpected moments. Serendipitous incidents in which things just seem all right in the universe. When you find a quarter on the ground. When the scoop of ice cream is a little more than usual. When you walk away from moments having gained more than you ever really imagined was possible, because you were not expecting it to happen.
It’s been on my mind the last few days after I facilitated at the Delta Sigma Phi Presidents’ Academy this past weekend. And it was true after I facilitated the Undergraduate InterFraternity Institute (UIFI). I went into these situations with certain expectations. I was going to work with college-aged students and talk about leadership, values, strengths, etc. and I was hopefully going to make an impact in some way. And that totally happened in several situations. I connected with those students and we had laughs and good conversations and even challenging moments. I went in ordering onion rings and I got a whole bunch of onion rings. With zesty sauce.
But then, there it was.
Or whatever your preferred food analogy might be.
I met some of the coolest grown ups in the world. They are the shit. No joke. My bonus fry is that person who people assume you’ve known for years when you only met them an hour ago. Or the person you find yourself in a battle of snark with a day after meeting. Or the one that sits with you for hours talking about your families. The people you laugh until you cry with during the late night, slap-happy hours. You share secrets and fears. You spontaneously buy plane tickets when they ask you to visit (when you’ve never been that spontaneous in your life). These people. My people. My wheat noodles in a world of fancy-ass Fusilli Lisci and Farfalle, or even Pappardelle.
Someone asked me today how I was doing. My lazy response is busy and I hate that. But today I paused. How am I?
I’m swamped with work.
I’m trying to move to a new place.
I don’t get normal amounts of sleep ever.
I have a great family.
I drank beer and listened to authors read their work last night.
I spent the weekend laughing endlessly.
I’m achieving great things in my job.
My friends are incredible.
So I responded, in a way like you’ve just consumed a whole plate of pasta:
Hope you find the things that fill you as well.
Until next time. Eat up friends.