Thursday, January 12, 2012

Kindred Spirit in a Walmart Parking Lot

So I have not started the New Year off very well. I have let the blues weigh me down in a way that I haven't done for awhile. All the work that I have put into being comfortable with uncertainty, just isn't taking hold right now.  Worries keep me up. Being tired makes everything look more dreadful. The concern about where we will live after our lease is up, is all consuming.

I have often read that it is therapeutic to build the home of your dreams, room by room in your mind, detailed with  pillow patterns, paintings on the wall and even the sunlight  falling through lace curtains.  I have tried that a little. If you can visualize it, it is supposed to feel more real, more attainable. The funny thing is that I always find myself opening the creaky screen door and heading out to my make believe garden. I can almost smell the dark dirt on my hands and the Jersey tomatoes growing on hearty vines. I miss summer and winter hasn't even descended yet; it has been so unseasonably mild. I even saw a robin this morning. In January. There are a lot of us confused these days.

Just a little while ago, I saw a woman in Walmart looking pretty confused herself. She cradled a few items in her arms as she stood on the other side of the belt where the cashier was ringing me up. She was about my age, in business attire and she looked like she clearly did not know what to do with her purchases. She kept looking at me, then the cashier and then at the things in her hands. It was as if she went shopping, gathered her things but was totally baffled by the next step.  I wanted to ask her if she was ok, but I felt like it would have appeared rude, almost snotty. "Do you need help figuring out what to do?" For a millisecond, in the back of my mind, that numbness, that confused look on her face  registered with me. I had been there before, so completely overwhelmed that even the simplest everyday things were confusing.

The woman eventually made her way to a register, I got on with my own purchase and forgot about her. Going out to my car I wondered how I was going to lift this 38 pound container of cat litter into the trunk, let alone through the courtyard and up the apartment stairs.  I had been so active moving out of the house a few months ago and so much stronger then and now lately, my muscles had turned to mush.  I managed to lug the 17 pounds of cat food out of the cart pretty easily and toss it into the trunk. I wrestled the 28 pack of water in there too. Then, when I was working on the tub of litter, that same confused woman, in chunky heels and a skirt, was standing next to me at my trunk. Had I sighed or worse yet, grunted - signalling distress? I didn't remember any audible complaining on my part. But there she was, with a sweetness that I had not expected, offering to help me lift the container into my trunk. I am 5'8" in stocking feet and not a twig at all, and yet, this woman, the same age as myself, just about my stature, came over to help me. Where I live, this does not happen that often.

I politely declined, but our exchange was long enough for me to see something in her eyes. There was an ethereal quality about her. She wore both pain and peace on her face, and for a second, I thought that I might even be imagining her.

Was she some sort of angel, a sign sent to nudge me to be more attentive to others? I could have, after all, offered to help her when she appeared confused. Or was there a divine purpose, to enable us to see ourselves in each others' eyes? I am she, she is me? It was just a split second  connection at a time when I was feeling alienated from the planet in general. 

Maybe she was just a thoughtful person and there is nothing more mystical about it than that. But the truth is, I don't even remember her walking off, although her face is with me still. Such a small gesture, such an insignificant encounter, but when I drove home, I felt, inexplicably less alone.


  1. The holidays, and more especially the post-holidays, suck when alone. And there's always some memory or fresh new wound that threatens to pull us under. I about lost it when the ex sent a Christmas card with pictures of the new wife and kids to one of our daughters at MY address (she travels for work and uses my address.) The onslaught seems particularly cruel this time of year. Look for those moments of kindred spirit, and hold them close when you find them. The Oneness is what sustains. Your blog, your presence is one of the things that sustains me!

  2. Thanks, you know I am a fan of your writing, and your last post really hit home. Isn't it amazing the lack of sensitivity (that Christmas card) which seems more deliberately cruel than lack of good judgement? Anyway, although I am new to your blog, I like how you rise above it.

  3. Yours is certainly an examined life. There must be great rewards for that, but also some burden. I would have come through that experience with an entirely different result---definitely a shallower one. I hope that as I try to make mine a more examined life, rather than one full of stories, I'll get some insight and depth in my interactions.

  4. Over-examined, I know. I try not to look for meaning in every little thing, but then, there it is. Good or bad, my often neurotic mind pounces on it. I think it is funny, because I am trying very hard to live with more abandon, not to think so much and live the stories, which is what draws me to your posts. You often make me laugh, and you offer just the right portion of your unique slices of life.