After fighting off a low level depression the last week or so (ok, month or so) – hey, if it’s good enough for Michelle Obama, it’s good enough for me - I’m leaning in to my busy puttering, gardening, jam making, vacuuming daily Domestic Goddess elf. Aka trying to distract myself enough not to freak out over being suddenly unemployed, especially as a middle-aged single mother with a typical So Cal mortgage and companies looking to hire workers closer to my son’s age than my own.
First correction – I wasn’t actually fighting a low-level depression, I was utterly succumbing to it. Picture me lying horizontal on the couch, drooling onto a pretty pillow, curtains drawn, rose in one hand and tv clicker in the other. Hopefully sometime past noon. The good news is that who knew how many amazingly, almost laughably hunky men are currently slathered all over every show on TV! Or in my case, all over PBS since I tend to watch the quaint British murder mysteries more than anything else. There are Australian hunks, loads of British hunks, with lots of others scattered about as well.
I have been pouring my anxiety into my house and garden – when I think of the amoral and insidious behavior of my old bosses I work really fast! - and thus far I have built a new backyard fence (a huge task), added a gravel path with stepping stones, cleaned up, weeded and added many new plants, including lots of lavender, built a trellis and added honeysuckle that will someday soon vine all over it. And today I built what I call a Chia Pet fence, a faux hedge to block the AC and electrical units (I made them for a fraction of what they cost to buy). I have been a busy little bee and am very proud of and grateful for this house and home I have built, all solely bought, paid for and tended by moi solo.
But still the malaise of Covid, putrid fire stained air of So Cal, looming unemployment, a brilliant if surly teenager locked into his 10 square feet; when I finally got up and showered and dragged myself to the local supermarket to get eggs and a few other necessities, a very sweet young man that I had said hello to when he was out collecting shopping carts as I parked, turned out to also be my cashier upon checking out. We got chatting as one does – especially me (when you end up trying to tell the cashier your life story, you know the lockdown had gone on too long), his kindness and sensitivity were rather stunning; he told me about a break up he had gone through that had turned out to be full of life lessons. He said that his mother too had been a single mom. And then he said something that zinged me – “Congratulations.”
I just stared. He smiled.
“What for?” I asked.
“Whatever it is you’re hoping for.”
So many thoughts flew through my mind, including finding a publisher and having a bestselling book. A new job was right up there too. And why not, throw in winning the lottery. Not grotesque wealth though, nothing garish, maybe just something around $10 million.
“Wow,” I stammered. “That is the best thing anyone has said to me in … a long time. Do you mind if I borrow that?”
We smiled at each other and bowed in a semi-Japanese style, he behind the counter and cash register, me behind my shopping cart and bags. I leaned forward to look at his name tag.
“Thank you Michael” I said.
As I loaded up my bags and drove home, I marveled again at how just one simple encounter can have the power to change your mood, your day, maybe even your outlook. It reminded me of something I sometimes say to my cranky teenage son – imagine what fun it has been for just the 2 of us to be locked in together for 7 months straight when most boys his age don’t even want to hear or be seen in public with their awesomely embarrassing parent(s) – “Be positive” I will say. After the first time I said it, I realized that B+ is my blood type, so it all seemed to coalesce (or should I say coagulate?).
Anyway, the cashier Michael was another example of B+, and it inspired me to toss out the old “5 from the 405” titled blog idea – especially since I am thankfully no longer making that drive every day – and embrace B+, aka Be Positive.
So I say this as much to myself as to anyone else – BE POSITIVE. We really have no other decent choice. And it makes the journey so much more enjoyable. I know it’s hard, sometimes it feels impossible and pointless. But it is, finally, all we have. Our own outlook and the power of our psyches.
Talk to your cashier. Maybe even to the Tech person when you call your bank. How about the person at the gas station, or your doctor’s office? We are all hungry for connection and you never know where it might come from, and Cashier Michael – and who knows what other amazing things he is and may yet become in his young life? – reminded me of that today, and this is what I want to share with you.