A buffet is often a pretty easy-to-please meal. There’s a plethora of options, a clear, flat fee, and you pick and choose what you want to coat your plate in. You decide what you like, what you love, how many plates you want to have, what you’re fine only having a bite of, and what you want three bowls of. Perhaps most wonderfully, everything is within your reach, and you get to sample anything you want without consequence or further penalty. The lines are clear, they are stark, and they are stern.
However, I am not a buffet.
You don’t get to decide when you want me and when you don’t. You don’t get to decide that your plate is suddenly too full, or you just don’t feel like any of the options that are offered. I’m not always easy to reach for, and there are certainly times that your actions have true consequences and penalties. The lines are not clear, they are not stark, and they are not stern, because friendship and true, authentic connection lives in the blurred grays of a monotone color palette.
Because I am not a buffet, you don’t get to come and go. You don’t get to text me only when you need something and expect me to ask how I should appease you best. I don’t serve friendship and connection at the same quality as lukewarm food that comes from the freezer and into the pan. I’m not made of things that require a sneeze guard, and I’m certainly not served on a community plate that 40 other people have had a meal off of just today. I am not food that is sitting out in a warmer, waiting to fit into your schedule, on your clock, in your calendar, and at your convenience.
Because I am not a buffet, I am not waiting for you, and I am not here only to serve you what you want, when you want it. Because I am not a buffet, this means that when you go silent for months and your text doesn’t even include a, “how are you,” before you ask me for something, you don’t need to send me a text at all.
Because I am not a buffet, you don’t get to see me in my entirety, take me at face value, and treat me as a service. You don’t get to mold me into what you want me to be. You don’t get to decide when, where, how, and why.
Because I am not a buffet, you do not get to decide I’m good enough only when you’re desperate for someone to tag along to do something I have no interest in anyway. You don’t get to make it all about you and expect me to meekly go along with it.
Because I am not a buffet, I am not obligated to give you my time, my energy, or my friendship when you walk in and out as you see fit. I’m not built to have 24/7 hour service, and I certainly don’t need to always be open for your drive-by affection.
Because I am not a buffet, you do not get to pick and choose what, when, and how much. You cannot take too much when some of me is offered and then decide in regret you need to scrape the leftovers from your plate into the garbage.
Because I am not a buffet, I am not ready whenever you are. I am not at your disposal, waiting for you to come my way. I do not sit, waiting for you to pick and choose the parts of me that you want and those that you don’t. I am not only what you see or only the good parts that you like.
I am not a buffet, but I do have parts of me that are similar to the chicken that is a touch too cold and the bread that is a bit too hard. Sometimes I do overflow plates. Sometimes I am a soup that is too hot or mashed potatoes that have been sitting out too long. Sometimes I have days where I have been previously picked through by the time you get to me, and only scraps are left.
But because I am not a buffet, you do not get to set the terms of my worth.