Imagine a woman in a sweatshirt, wearing dark glasses, and using a walker.
Pick a grocery store, one you know well. The only stipulation is the time. It must be now—these raw, uncertain days–less than two weeks after the election of 2016. The vote looms.
Who knew so much would feel…changed? On either side of the divide the uncertainty is palpable. How to be one’s self when among other people.
North Florida weather is not often cool enough to require the warmth of a Wyoming kind of sweatshirt; also, I suspect my anemia keeps me a bit cooler than most folks. Regardless, I have worn this sweatshirt many times, and I do not remember it ever garnering a comment.
This morning, I was in the Publix “Greenwise” section trying to find a gluten-free cookie that might satisfy my ever-present sweet tooth, another nod to my anemia, I suspect.
And then I heard the voice, “I was wondering if I should just stay out of your way.” I didn’t see the man behind it but the tone had a smile in it.
In retrospect, I meant that in so many ways. In that moment, however, all I knew is that the shelf stocker and I were in agreement, and our smiles sealed it.
We went on to talk about the location of Crazy Woman Creek in the Big Horn Mountains in central Wyoming. His entire being opened up as he talked about the beauty of the big sky country of Montana.
As a Montana native, I’m used to the skies having no boundaries for it is not as if they are smaller over Wyoming. It’s all that space that everyone remembers in their visit to the Rocky Mountain West, not which state.
For the rest of my grocery shopping session, one person after another told me how much they liked my sweatshirt. There were warm smiles, some chuckles, but always, kind eyes. Yet, there was something else, too, a reaching out to accept and be accepted.
When I put that sweatshirt on this morning, I didn’t even think about what was written on it, only that it was the warmest sweatshirt I owned. How true that proved to be.