I am a creature of habit. I’m up by seven am, make my Hazelnut coffee, and use the hour from seven to eight am to read Twitter and Facebook and bookmark articles to read later. I work from home, so my commute to my “office” takes all of twenty seconds. By nine am I begin my work day.
Today was no different than all the others. At eleven am I set out for the bank to get a check to send to my sister’s landlord, went to Fedex to overnight said check, then to Equinox to get in my work-out.
Today was abs day. As I headed over to Eighty-Sixth Street to do my usual grocery shopping, my phone rang. It was my sister.
“Hi,” she said. “I just wanted to see if you put that check in the mail.”
My shoulders slumped. No “How are you?” or “What are you up to?”She got straight to the point. “Yep. I just dropped it off at Fedex. It’ll be there by Friday.”
“Thank you,” she said. “I hope you know how much I appreciate this.”
“I know you do.” I didn’t really believe that, but I wasn’t in the mood for a fight. We hung up and I recalled a recent conversation with my therapist.
“You look after her, but who looks after you?” he asked. “Who do you turn to when you need something?”
I chewed on my lower lip while I pondered his question. No one person came to mind. “I turn to me, I guess.”
He set his pen down on the yellow legal pad he kept on his lap. “What would your world look like if there was someone to lighten the load?”
Again, I took a moment to visualize this Utopia of which he spoke. I couldn’t picture it. It’s always been just me. I managed a half-hearted shrug. “I don’t know. I’ll have to think about that.”
I didn’t have to think about it. That is not nor has it ever been my reality. Back in present time, I cross the street to go to the electronics store. (Pro Tip: remove your wireless head set before you go into the steam room at your gym. The condensation from the steam will make the headset malfunction. You’re welcome.)
The Greeter at the door smiles at me and asks what I’m looking for. “Headphones,” I say. He points to the far back corner of the store. I get closer to the audio products counter and hear Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing. I smile, wondering if someone, somewhere is trying to tell me something. I buy a new set of ear buds and wireless headset then dash across the street to the supermarket. Once inside, I grab the first available cart and start on my way. I’m wheeling around the produce section looking for lemons for my water when I notice the heaviness. The feeling of being pulled down by an invisible set of ankle weights is a by-product of my chronic depression. I can spot it anywhere now. I shake my head from side to side as though I can rid the sensation simply by willing it away. It won’t last, I tell myself. Just keep moving. And so I do. Keep moving, that is.
I get in the elevator and my memory skips to this disappointment. I feel my heart cave in and deflate. Another disappointment. Another guy who didn’t want me. The pain wasn’t as bad as I had expected, but it was there, draining me of energy. Downstairs, I get my cream and sugar and Irish Cream coffee and toss them in my cart along with the salad I planned on having for lunch.
Back upstairs I get in line and notice a petite gray-haired woman of about seventy wearing a bright pink running suit standing to the side. She’s examining the impulse purchases – a chocolate bar, I think -meant to tempt customers while they wait for the next available cashier.
“Were you in line?” I ask her. “Did I just cut you?”
She turns, startled. “Oh, no. You go ahead. I’ll get behind you.” Her green hand basket full of cheese, bread, and an array of colorful vegetables swings on her arm.
From behind me I hear, “It was so nice of you to ask me if I was in line.” I turn to the see the woman smile. She has a streak of poppy red lipstick on her front tooth. “I like nice people.”
I smile but don’t say anything. I’m not what you call chatty when I’m in these somber moods.
“You’re a good person,” she says. I sense an eagerness to make a connection and it resonates with me. What it must be like, to be older and alone.
“Thank you,” I say. I’ve now turned my body towards her to engage her.
“There aren’t a lot of good people left. Not these days. You’re very nice. We need people like you and that police officer on the news who was paralyzed trying to save someone. I remember my husband and I reading about that when it happened.”
The officer she’s talking about had passed away the day before. He had been paralyzed in the line of duty thirty years earlier.I look down at her left hand and see a silver wedding band. The metal is tarnished and the stone set in the center of it is cloudy. It looked as though it hadn’t removed in years.
“These are rough times. We have to look out for each other. Every little bit counts,” I say.
“There are still good people left. I know it. You’re one of them.”
I pull the items from my basket and hand each one to the cashier so she can ring them up.I pay my thirty-two dollars and fifty three cents and take my plastic bags by their handles.
“Don’t give up,” the woman says as I’m leaving. “There’s an angel watching over you.”
A surge of emotion washes over me. I choke back tears and eek out, “Thank you.” I look down and scurry out of the store before anybody notices that I’m crying. I reach the corner and notice that the heaviness has been replaced with hope.
I’m choosing to believe that run-in wasn’t random, because I need to believe right now. I need to believe that some force of the universe was working through that woman to give me that message. Finding a hidden reason for that conversation means I’m not as alone as I think, and that’s what I need right now.
What about you? Have you ever had an experience that felt as though it was executed by The Universe? Do you believe that things like this happen for a reason?