Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Ice In Portland Today

I just got back from walking up to Safeway, to get a few things for the day, which we are certain is gonna be a stay at home, make popcorn, pull up the afghan, get a dog on your lap, watch a dvd kinda day. It is definitely too icy to walk anywhere, let alone drive.

But going up there, I was reminded of my ice story, which goes like this: Some years ago, I was shopping at the Fred Meyer supermarket near my house in the Hawthorne district, before Marie and I had met. I was having some people over for dinner, and I believe it was during the week between Christmas and New Year's Day. Since it had been snowing, and was quite icy, I had walked, just the one block from my house to the store. Those were sorta lonely days for me, partnerless, loveless, and I was excited to be having friends over. I only needed a few things.

But as I walked the aisles of the store, I kept tossing things into my cart, things I thought I needed, oh, a few pounds of coffee, extra bottles of wine, a toaster oven. At one point, my eye caught the weather scene outside, and it was snowing heavily. At that moment, I felt so stupid. Did I not remember that I nearly killed myself getting there, on the ice? Am I so dense that I cannot remember something for ten minutes? Here I am, facing the challenge of getting home at all on that ice, and I am loading up my cart with sundries and groceries that will require a van to get home!

But it's too late. I am not going to put all this stuff back, returning things to their proper place, aisle by aisle, and I am not going to just leave my cart sitting there like a jerk, cuz, for one thing, there are things in the cart, at the bottom, that i truly need TODAY.

So I decide to push the cart home. I grumble my way through the rest of the store, pick up a few more items, say shit a few times, and deride myself for being such a knuck.

I pay. I don't smile. I am probably brusque with the checker. I enter the parking lot.

Cars are spinning. It has gotten much worse during my hour in the store. I begin my journey.

Here's the good part. As I begin taking steps toward the parking lot exit, well, I discover it's not hard. Something about the way the cart is loaded, it's shape, whatever, grabs the icy surface, and is totally controllable. Plus, since I am glued to it by my gloved hands, it pulls me along.

I push on further, past the parking lot planters and the sliding customers. I can feel a smile come to my face. I giggle. Whut the heck?!!??

Before I know it, as I continue pushing and being pulled down Main Street, I am gliding on a cloud. My giggle has turned to full-blown laughter. I increase my speed. I have never experienced this, but I think it must be like skiing really fast. I arrive home, out of breath, giddy, slobberingly happy. As I remove the groceries from the cart, I take stock of this most unusual happening.

There I was, in that store, complaining and moaning like an Alabama fan after a loss. Running myself down, looking at life with a completely negative outlook, certain of pain and defeat. Faithless.

But, just like in real life, if one can hold onto faith, something can always change for the better, and sometimes, when you least expect it. Whenever I feel that I must be the saddest, disgusting and desperate soul in the world, when I experience rejection, loss, illness, or pain, I just remember my ice story.

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