I went to the grocery store Friday afternoon with my sister while the girls were napping. (Dom had the day off.) I desperately needed groceries before the weekend but for one reason or another had been putting off the shopping. (yeah maybe it’s that last stretch of pregnancy when I just feel huge and achy and useless) Ah but it was so nice to go without the distractions of two small girls to watch. Not that they are bad, quite the opposite, but they do require attention. Anyhow at the end of this trip I was still physically tired but felt oddly refreshed. Partly because I had one of those great encounters while I was in the produce section, the kind that just leave you smiling for the rest of the day.
It began when I was scooping up a watermelon, cradling it for a moment against my huge belly while I levered it into my cart. I caught the eye of another women looking them over and I quipped, “I feel like I’ve already got one of these.” She glanced at my huge belly and smiled and kindly reassured me that I was doing pretty good.
A minute later I saw the same woman again as I was scoping out the collard greens. A little black woman in a bright red suit, she grinned at me, “Sister, you’re getting yourself some soul food!”
“Oh yeah,” I responded, “I’m going to cook them up with some bacon and hot pepper!” She grinned even bigger, acknowledging that I indeed knew what I was doing. Then told me she was from Louisiana and asked where I was from. When I told her Texas she grinned again. “My name is LadyBird. Like Lady Bird Johnson.”
We continued to chat as I picked up some bell peppers and she poked at the collard greens. I helped her find the bags to put them in and we discussed the merits of various local markets. We went on our ways but not before she expressed her pleasure at meeting me. And in then in the way of things encountered each other a few more times as we finished our respective shopping.
It wasn’t huge. It’s not like I made a friend for life. Just a pleasant encounter with a stranger I’ll probably never meet again. But somehow the smiles and the friendliness just made my day. And perhaps the warmth with which she addressed me as “sister”. And the taste of Southern culture, which I do miss here in New England. I don’t notice it anymore except when I go back home to Texas; but for the first few years here I really did feel like a stranger in a strange land.
I had nice exchanges with a few other shoppers as well. Perhaps because that first one warmed me up and made me feel more generous and open?
Now I’m pretty introverted and can be so caught up in my own world that I don’t really notice other people. So any pleasant encounter with a stranger is a rarity. I also realize that when shopping with the girls while on the one hand they in their cuteness elicit comments and smiles, they also in their need for attention prohibit many conversations from happening. Anyhow, I felt a little taste of a rare freedom from responsibility that almost made up for having to spend naptime at the store.