Monday, February 15, 2010
It was around the holidays. I was grocery shopping, with both kids in the cart, around 5 p.m.--the busiest possible time in the very busy store near my house. I was dashing from aisle to aisle, trying to hustle our way out of the building with dinner, before either kid (or both!) melted down. My mind was full of plans, my to-do list, the recording of the Christmas song I co-wrote with my friend Terri Fann, which I had been schlepping around to radio stations.
At first, I didn't notice him: the aisles were so packed with people. But as I walked past him, in this kind of incredulous tone, he said, "Wow! You're really beautiful!" And I must admit, I did look really good that day! I was wearing jeans and boots, and my favorite new orange sweater, which my super-shopping husband had given me for my birthday. But still--it's not every day that someone comments on my appearance in the middle of my grocery store trip.
I was so taken aback, I tried to think of what to say. So I decided to keep it simple: "Thank you." That's when I first really saw him. He was young, probably college-age. I don't know what his particular diagnosis was, but he walked with a walker, so I would guess he had some type of nervous system degeneration--maybe multiple sclerosis? Talking was, for him, a great effort. So this one statement, "Wow! You're really beautiful!" took awhile to get out.
After I thanked him, thinking that was the end of it, he went on: "Are you seeing someone?" And at that point, I really had to start laughing. Good grief, who on Earth did this guy think he was? I was wearing my wedding rings, I had two children in my cart, I was grocery shopping, and he was hitting on me? Huh? I must have looked confused, because he said it again: "Are you seeing someone?" Followed by, "Are you seeing me, right now?" It was then that I saw the twinkle in his eye, and I laughed again and said, "Yes, I am. I'm seeing you, right now."
I don't remember much after that. I was in my hurry, and it was crowded, and the whole thing was just so...weird. He shuffled off, and I finished my shopping. But in the next few minutes, I realized that something truly momentous had just happened to me. Here was someone who must be the subject of so much projection from people in life, just making up his mind to have a good time. He just didn't care, in a way that was completely inspiring. He was gone, but I was suddenly so curious about him--who he was, what was going on with his body, what his parents were like, everything. I wanted to know how a spirit could be so bright, so oblivious of rejection. I wanted to be just like him.
If I see him again, I hope I have time to buy him a coffee, and to hear more about his story. For now, and from then on, he's my guru.