I suppose this could have been summarized as a facebook update, but I thought to write it instead. (On, yes, my very new [refurbished] MacBook Air, so generously given to me as a Chanukah gift from several contributors.
Yes, it’s materialistic [Ooh, shiny!], but yes, too, there are things that I couldn’t do with my old dinosaur that might come in handy — like if I wanted to work from home, Facetime my mom, or watch Netflix on something other than my cellphone!)
Yesterday, I had the day off from my retail job. I didn’t put this on Fbk either, but I had to take 3 days off last week after hobbling from my job mid-Tuesday to my chiropractor, my right ankle swollen and awful. The retail job is hard. The store itself is as large as a city block, and you’re standing most of the time, walking the length of the store others, and there’s no sitting.
Now, I know when I quit my regular desk job, I said I didn’t want to sit at a desk 40 hours a week, but maybe something in the middle, eh?
And it was with this experience and knowledge, my feet still hurting, but apparently getting used to it, as my coworkers and dr said I would, that I went yesterday morning to a cafe to continue working on my holiday collage cards.
I wanted to get out of the house, and I didn’t know if I’d get kicked out of the cafe as I spread cardstock, magazines, scissors and a glue stick out on the table. But, I wanted the human connection, too.
And, lo, I did not get kicked out. I sat there at the large “handicap accessible” table (don’t worry, no wheelchairs rolled in), and I continued cutting and glueing, pasting and maneuvering images. Even used the alphabet letter stamps I’d bought 2 years ago and the ink I’d been given when I was sick.
I sat there, content, enjoying, a little self-conscious and waiting to be scolded when a family with two daughters (I’d overheard) home from college for the winter break sat down next to me. One of the daughters tapped her family and looked over at what I was doing, and remarked, “Isn’t that cool?”
It was a sweet thing. I finished the card I was making and put it to the side of my over-large table, knowing I would hand that one to her when I left the cafe.
A few minutes later, her mother turned and asked me what I was doing, if these were for sale or what? I replied, No, these are just holiday cards, my presents to my friends. For fun. And then I handed her the one set aside and said, “This is for your daughter.”
She took it, surprised and grateful, and we exchanged names and shook hands. And I smiled at her daughter who’d admired my work. (“No one will ever believe I made this,” I heard the daughter say to her sister, amused.)
I smiled. I was glad to give her something. I was gratified that she’d admired something I consider so elementary and basic and fun for me.
And then, as the family packed up on their way out of the cafe, the mom turned to me again and handed me an envelope with the words Happy Holidays written on the front. I thanked her, and wished them all well, and they left.
In the envelope was a holiday card in which she’d written, “Thank you for your kindness to my daughter. Happy holidays.” And there was a twenty dollar bill.
It was one generosity inspiring another. But it was more than that to me.
I have felt so unmoored during this “job transition” time. Especially since I’ve taken on this retail job and can barely make it through a day with a breath to myself. I come home late, exhausted, and fall into bed. Chores are undone. Dishes unwashed. Groceries unbought.
I cried Monday morning on the floor of my closet as I got ready for the day, exhausted from the long Sunday hours. I have felt so alien to myself with so little “me” time, so little time to think about or explore what could or should be next.
I have felt lost, and a bit hopeless on the career/job horizon.
And yesterday morning, I sat in a cafe, doing something I love to do because it’s fun and creative and easy and whimsical. Because I know people will enjoy them, if even for only a few weeks on their mantle.
I sat there, and I was seen. My work was seen. And it was appreciated.
I was an artist and I was rewarded, if that’s the word for it. I was in the world and I was given a “god shot” — a moment of, Moll, you’re on a path, we promise. This, arting, is one of them. Being in the world is one of them.
Go out. Be seen. Create. Give.
We see you. The Universe and those in it see me.
It was one moment. One interaction. One family. But it meant more to me than they knew. As lost as I feel, it was a reminder that I’m not a total fool for not toeing the party line.
This experience doesn’t point me in a direction, but it is a welcome dose of hope when I very much needed to know that what I can give to the world is indeed greater.