It hit me like a proverbial sledgehammer last night—one minute it was a tickle in the back of my throat, that I promptly ignored, and then it was a full-scale assault on my olfactory system. I rarely say, “I need to go to bed, I feel terrible.” Last night the distress call was made. So it was with great effort that I opened my eyes to the early call this morning and asked John if he needed help. Saint John (he truly is, as he knows olfactory suffering far too well) told me I only needed to rest and that he could get the brothers three in to school without backup. I fell back into a Nyquil slumber and woke with a start—I would miss Bible study and talking about Jairus and then that it was Tuesday specials at Fresh Market and they waited for no woman.
I saw on my computer a detailed checkout report from our local library and sighed and thought I should probably stop by there too since I was going to be unadvisedly out. Ignoring the temple throbbing, or the cool bedside pills or the promise of a cup of Lord Bergamot, I dressed and went into my personal haunted house of Joe’s room. I located Star Wars Legacy Volume I, artistically wedged between bed frame and floor, taunting my chicken arms reach and promptly whacked my head on the post as I fished it out in triumph. Sneeze.
I went to the bathroom, washed the sleep from my face, and even brushed my hair, ignoring the lump that was rapidly forming as well as the increased sinus pressure that was making even putting on my old specs a challenge.
That’s the preface to this story. This was a post I did not intend to write, I’m working hard on another but my son’s state project and another’s STEM one got necessarily in the way. But this incident made me so stonily sad, even in my antihistamine weakened body, that I needed to write about it. Today. Right now. On my phone. About me getting up all coldish and meeting Lululemon lady at the Market. And it’s a story you need to read. Because it’s about what we are doing to each other every. single. day. Read on, dear friend. Because now that it’s done, it’s digestives and a date with Lord Bergamot for me. Love lots.
Dear Lululemon Lady and her Swift Pink friend,
“Can you believe that get up?”
“No—how old are those pants?! And that shirt—it’s horrible!”
“I mean, at least take some pride in your appearance you know? Maybe it’s her Halloween costume—it’s on Saturday, maybe she’s testing it out. I hope when I’m that old, I don’t just let myself go like that. I mean it looks like she’s not even wearing make-up—maybe she thinks those Harry Potter glasses hides it.”
“I know, seriously. Like make an effort. You never know who’s watching.”
It wasn’t until the crack about my old specs that I realized you were talking about me. I’m the one in the old blue sweatpants and grey shirt that you were referring to. I’m the old lady not wearing any make-up and not making any “effort.” It is me. I was incredibly embarrassed when the realization hit full force, and my skin that doesn’t easily reveal the red shock or age was burning all the same. Even the lovely young cashier looked at me in mute sympathy as she heard it all as well.
I had a cold. A plain garden variety head-cold very nattily shared by my eldest son. But it’s a condition exacerbated by motherhood. Every condition is exacerbated by that splendid office, you should know that Lululemon if you ever get invited to that party. Every single thing will reflect it. And I promise I won’t point out the searing swill stain on your yoga pants when you bend down to retrieve the rattle dropped by precious. I’ve been there.
You can make fun of me. It’s okay. I realized on the outgoing that I wasn’t looking my best. And yes yes YES I'm one of those people who takes my son's blunt edged Fiskars and saws in a seemingly straight line for my overgrown bangs because I can’t wait the six weeks between haircuts—I’m sorry Luis. (I can’t spend the gas to go all the way there so you can trim them for free.)
Yes, I have navy sweatpants with pinkish bleach stains because I had rushed to get the truly rancid, otherwordly odor out of my sons’ bathroom toilet. If we had bottled it, it would have brought new meaning to neurological warfare. I bet none of your clothes have such tales to tell hmmm?
My post thrice baby belly is flapping over that waistband no matter how hard I try to suck it in. C-sections and crunches notwithstanding, it just doesn’t happen for me. And also I like cheese. That’s probably a part of the reason.
I’m trying to grow my bob out, because I had a bout of hair loss this summer and I’d like to know how it feels to pull it on top of my head again. Its abundance will seem decadent. It’s the little things you know Lululemon? So it’s not at its best at the moment and also any semblance of hair tying apparatus made my Star Wars locating throbbing head protest at loud angry decibels.
My toenails are freshly painted, if you’d care to notice Swift Pink. They’re in new croc sandals because I think I have strained a muscle in my foot. You need your feet you know. And the fancy schmancy sandals I do own only exacerbated it, not repaired it. But I’m on my feet a lot anyway so "feet up" recovery won’t happen.
I washed my face. I put on moisturizer with sunscreen on this grey drizzily day. I went without a dose of cold medicine because driving a car is like driving a loaded gun, and I can’t be hazy. I may have even tried to pluck out the stray chin whisker that was a surprise gift on my fortyish birthday!
The point is, I tried. I needed to come here. I had come here to the Tuesday special to get milk and water for my fastly growing boys. One of whom announced that we only had “a little water left to survive” due to our fridge filter being broken—a fact he’d erroneously applied from our summer meanderings when he learned not only how quickly we could die without water but just how many people in the world go without clean drinking water everyday. Not that you would know about that—the fridge filter certainly or perhaps the water crisis in the still developing world. I say “perhaps,” because I do not want to assume.
I do not want to assume about you that you do not know about that, or the Israeli Palestinian conflict
—the call to boycott Israel, the world’s response. The Palestinian outcry. The crisis in the EU as more and more refugees
come across its borders seeking asylum.
Or the fact that 1 in 4 children in the United States go to bed hungry. I do not wish to assume.
In fact, I hope that you will always have the means to buy Lululemon over making a car payment. That you can take the classes necessary for your health and well-being. That you can always purchase food at the Market rather than a discount store doing mental gymnastic arithmetic to see how far your checking account will stretch. I hope that you will be able to buy name brand rather that obsequiously off-label “round oat cereal.” I hope your sight remains clear enough that you don’t need
something to help you see the edges of the
world. I hope you never have to notice
I hope, in fact, that you will always have the luxury to think about everything, even the offensive garments “old ladies” wear to the grocery store on a grey morning. Because it is a privilege. Most of the world is below subsistence.
Thought, the space and time to think, is a luxury.
What I also know is this: the kindness we display, especially to those who do not expect understanding, acceptance or kindness is how we ourselves are defined. And it is then how the world evolves. It is a symbiotic relationship. Kindness begets kindness. We are told to be tough and that it is “not our problem.” It is as egregious of advice as to “be tough.” And it is wrong. We need to be able to share our vulnerabilities and our sorrows as well as our joys. We need to have manners and courtesy. We need to consider our steps. We need to moderate our voices. We need to moderate our words.
I could let your unkindness cause me such sorrow. Send me into a tailspin of self-doubt. And had I been younger, it might have. Such unkindness is destructive in young people. We hear the stories again and again. Social media has made it
in its anonymous consistency and accessibility. The only way to change it is to stop. Say hello. Find something
nice to say. See how it makes the day
more warm. What we give away is so much
better than what we get (Luke 6:38).
Your outward life is a story—instead of seeing the stain, try imagining what may have caused it. Consider the story. Consider the story little sister, because there will come a day when you will want someone to consider yours.
The point is, I put on deodorant and tried this morning to do something that I had to do. Rejoice with me. Don't put me down. Because just as it takes less facial musculature to smile rather than frown, it's so easy to build a stranger up than tear rents in your own soul by poking a hole at another. You may never know who is watching, it’s true. But you never know who is listening either.
Happy All Hallows' Eve Lululemon and Ms. Pink. I hope it's swell.