Perfect day last Saturday - sun shining, weather warm, gorgeous. I left for the store early as the new Alpaca socks arrived, I need to price these.
Our contractor was working on a garage, so I stopped by. “Gary, I maybe shouldn't be saying that but I was thinking about you. With all the surgeries you have been having, take a look if there is any stressful situation in your life that needs resolving. Stress contributes so much to accidents and health issues.”
He looked at me, startled, and said “You know, there is something. I never connected the two. But it's a tough one.” “I bet. Otherwise you would just have a cold. Don't ignore it, you are so young. All the best!”
My store's open door helped fill the space with sunshine and visitors. A beautiful family, with the smartest 5 year old boy I saw, is browsing. Despite being politically incorrect, other people's accents make me ask. “I am from Morocco.” “Morocco! Oh my gosh, I have never been there. They have beautiful textiles. And art and music. Tell me about your country…”
Another lady comes in and we start talking about construction. She has a great attitude towards challenges at work and I am inspired by that. Another familiar face shows up. “How are your beautiful daughters?” One look at her face and my heart stops. The younger one died two weeks ago. Tears fill our eyes. Nothing to say, nothing to do. I hold my heart in expression of empathy and share the tiniest bit of her pain. The worst nightmare of any parent in front of me. Unimaginable but real. We find â beautiful scarf for her and I will keep her in my thoughts.
The other couple is so young. Transplants from New York, they seem carefree and nice. The boy carries a colorful blanket. They explain to me how it is used in Brazil as a blanket or a shawl. We talk more and I find out that the girl's father is half Polish, half Argentinian. Yes, we Polish people have been strewn all over the world. We have an immediate connection and discuss the translation of her name.
Time to go home. The neighbors stop by and we share a glass of wine in the garden. So many people, so many stories, so much life. I am so privileged to share tiny fragments of their day - the pain as well as joy.
All of it with masks, with my accent mumbling behind the mask, and them with theirs. I weigh in if some of my questions may be interpreted as socially incorrect by current trends. I do notice occasional embarrassment on my reserved husband's face. I think that the purpose of withdrawn politeness, so common in Seattle. It is not to focus on making anybody feel different.
But we are different. I love that, I learn so much. I have never come across anybody that took my interest as an offence. I think we are all starved for somebody noticing us, interested in us. I believe that’s the purpose of being here and the delight in meeting people that makes these conversations ok. Even more than ok. It allows on melting the differences into the connection. It validates who we are and validates the right and privilege and acceptance of being different.
If I had only one wish, I think it would be that - don't stop connecting with people. Yes, we have masks, yes we are 6 feet apart. No, we don't hug or shake hands. But we still care. We are a tribe of humans on this planet with a tapestry of feelings, experiences, things to say. Just like strong textiles, the warp and woof running in opposite directions make fabric strong. Please, keep doing that, keep being curious about each other. If I am out of line, I'll find out. But not having a chance to express my delight in meeting differences is a bigger loss.
Somebody explained to me on the street “I am smiling, its just that mask is covering it”. Oh I know! I see it in your eyes. I see it and feel it. It makes my heart shine.