It was just a trip to the grocery store. On a very cold Seattle day. For me, anyway. The shivers ran up my spine as I held tight to my daughter's little hand, our feet split-splattering puddles on our way to the entrance. I lifted her up into the shopping cart, funneled her little feet through the metal, and off we went, inside...
Shopping for food has always been a favorite event of mine. No matter what country I am in, no matter how warm or cold, how hungry or full, I love to immerse myself in a world of edible ideas:
Leather yellow coats of lemons, frilly heads of fraying kale, and a big bag of Lincoln log carrots, will the Pink Ladies delight me as much as they did last time, oh yes…I must have a few of those. And what about the other rabbit treats, my cabbage and zucchini and maybe an onion or two?
Sofia and I wander around the produce section, talking to new friends about the beets and the parsnips and the way the cauliflower looks so small lately. William asks us how the juicer is working and tells us about his trip to Portland, Oregon. Another friendly stranger shares of his birthday today. Sofia and I cheer and give him a hug. We watch waves of smile move through the store-- from us, to us, everywhere around us. We are alive and connected and filled with authenticity.
I move toward the specialties, the ethnic foods, the sea foods, the delicacies called confections. I breathe them all in and know I must try to let my mind hold the reins, not my heart, for this time, my dear and precious heart must hold her tongue. She protests and a small caramel chocolate finds its way into my basket. She protests again, and two mini pie tins in the shape of hearts find their way in there, too. My mind shakes her head. Silly heart.
We stand in line to pay. I look down into my basket at what I have chosen, at the things that will delight our bellies over then next few days. Sofia waves at a little girl in pink boots holding on to her mama’s leg. The cashier thanks the customer in front of me. It’s my turn.
“Good morning,” I say, as I pile up the conveyor belt. “Are you having a happy day?”
She looks at me with a half-smile, her eyes wondering if I am for real. My eyes tell her I am.
“Yes,” she says hesitatingly, “it’s a happy day. So far, I like it.” She warms up as she speaks.
We talk a bit as we each do our jobs, and somehow it comes out that Sofia and I have recently moved to the area. I tell her that this winter is particularly cold for us, but that writing about the magic in life warms me from the inside out.
“You write about the magic in life?” she asks me.
“I do,” I say, with a nod. “The little things that make life magic, the little things that make life worth living. It really helps with the cold, among other things.”
We chuckle at the same time, then give our words a rest.
“Know somethin',” I say a bit later, as I reach down to take a few things out of my cart, “my heart took over for a few minutes there so I better save these treats for another time.” I hand her the small chocolate caramel and the mini pie tins.
“Ok,” she says, placing them beside the register, ringing up the rest of my things, not saying another word.
I wait. And watch.
We sit and soak in one another.
And I realize I feel good.
This cashier makes me feel good.
“What is your name,” I ask.
“Gaby,” she says with a new smile. “What’s yours?”
I tell her and when I do, she hands me my receipt.
I touch her arm.
“Thank you, Gaby,” I say with a deep smile in my eyes.
“Thank you, Brynne,” she says in return, her eyes suddenly unfolded into their truth.
I leave for the parking lot with a bubbly daughter, a cart full of groceries, and a newly warmed heart. What a nice day, I say to myself. What a nice day.
* * *
When I get home and unpack my groceries, I come to a small brown package at the bottom of my bag. Did I forget something? Maybe a sweet potato or two? I unwrap it and stare-blink at the contents with disbelief. It’s the chocolate caramel and the two tins in the shape of hearts. I quickly scan my receipt. Did she misunderstand me? Did I miscommunicate?
But they aren’t listed. I scan the receipt again. Then I see it. Not the numbers, but her smile. In her eyes. Gaby’s eyes. The eyes that said I needed to be reminded of the magic in life today. Thank you, Brynne. And here, let me then remind you of the same.
* * *
I want to unfold.
I don’t want to stay folded anywhere
because where I am folded,
there I am a lie.
So we unfolded. Gaby and I. At the grocery store.
And lived, both of us, in the magic of our truths.