Miracle the First: It’s really hot here, but it’s not too hot to walk places, and there is something so cool (pardon the pun) about being the only person not in a car for miiiiiiiiiiiiiles. I hold my head a little higher as I cross an four-lane street and walk the vast parking lot of my neighborhood grocery store, and would you believe the Texas sun is already giving my Oregon pallor a run for its money? The other day I went grocery shopping and emerged with a Texas watermelon (among other things) wondering how I would make the trek back home, when a womyn approached me and said, ‘Excuse me, I noticed you were wearing a dress.’
I nodded. Seeing that she was wearing a long skirt, I braced myself for a lecture on the evils of short dresses. Instead, she said, ‘I have this dress that’s too small for me, would you like it?’ and held out a pink dress with shoulder pads and a mandarin collar.
‘I-I-I can just have it?’
‘Sure!,’ she smiled and walked back to her car.
That dress doesn’t fit me (not even close), and it’s not at all my style; but it’s my magic dress.* Something about it made my load of food lighter and my walk in the outdoor sauna altogether pleasant. See, what I really loathe about the suburbs is how compartmentalized everything is. You go from your house to your car to school/work/the mall/your favorite mid-level restaurant (Pei Wei Asian Fusion or bust! And don’t even try telling me P.F. Chang’s is better)/Coldstone or Pinkberry and home again. I have a really hard time making friends here, and I think most of it has to do with my attitude. I just don’t expect any spontaneous interaction, but as the Parking Lot Dress Womyn so easily proved, that’s silly. And it brings me to my…
Miracle the Second: This story is about the powers of the most magic person I know. I call her my mother. My mom can make friends with anyone anywhere. She’s had so many friends that I have heard her tell long stories about really good friends she used to have, whose names she no longer remembers!
The other day I got to witness her friend-making powers in action. We were waiting for our table at Cheddar’s when my mom turned to the womyn sitting next to us and said, ‘I think I’ve seen you before,’ which I believed because this was one memorable-looking individual: orange-tan skin, platinum hair, super-round eyes, and the most pursed lips I have ever seen on a human being. Absolutely purssssssssssssssssssed. This womyn (we’ll call her Cheddar in hommage to our meeting place) gave my mom a you-are-crazy-why-are-you-talking-to-me-stranger-danger-look. Unperturbed (or maybe oblivious), my mom went on to introduce herself and me.
Cheddar: (Sounding very unsure) I have a daughter, too.
Mom: How old is she?
Mom: Eight?! How old are you?
Mom: You don’t look it! Do you think you’ll have more kids?
Mom: Are you divorced?
Mom: I got divorced when she was two, but I guess I was lucky because she (signals to me) never wanted siblings, even after I got remarried.
Cheddar: (Sighs and stops pursing her lips quite so much) My daughter really wants a little brother or sister.
Mom: (Encouragingly) Oh, I’m sure you could get remarried and have another. You’re still young.
Cheddar: (Sadly) I don’t know…Sometimes it feels like I’ll never meet anyone again.
Mom: I know what that’s like. Dating can be such a hassle! You’re busy with work, with your daughter, with your family and friends. The last thing you wanna do is put in all that effort just to go on a bad date.
Cheddar: (Smiling) Exactly!
Mom: You know, the best way to meet someone is through a mutual friend because they know you, they know him, they can tell if you’re compatible.
Cheddar: (Unsure) Well, I’ve told my friends…
Mom: Then, don’t worry! As long as you are open to meeting someone, you will. You don’t have to go looking. The other thing that’s important is not having impossible expectations. Make a list of the five things that are most important to you. That way you can meet someone human instead of waiting on Mr. Perfect.
Cheddar: (Cheered up, nodding) Yeah! I can do that.
And then our table was ready, so my mom and Cheddar said, ‘Bye, nice to meet you!’ and that was that. I’ve been witnessing interactions like this all my life, and I’m still awestruck. Have you ever met someone who can so easily connect with a stranger and get her/him to divulge deep insecurities or tell her/his life story on the spot? I totally want to be like my mom when I grow up.
*It remains ‘mine’ though I’ve already donated it to charity ’cause I’m all, ‘Minimalism-Minimalism-Rah-Rah-Rah!’ these days.