This morning I have extra time to write because I missed the office Christmas party. It’s not that I’m anti-social. I love people. They’re so adorable. I just wasn’t feeling very Christmas-y.
This Grinch-a-tude might have begun at the grocery store. I admit, for some folks laundry detergent is not a big deal. On this occasion, I had managed to turn it into an end-of-the-world mission.
It might have been the stress of finals, the pressure I’d placed upon myself to keep a straight A average, or the prospect of spending Christmas apart from family. Back in school, and only working part-time, I would not have enough money for travel.
Whatever the reason, in the middle of grocery shopping, an overwhelming desire possessed me. I suddenly wanted my clothes to smell the same way they did when I lived with my Grandmother. This meant buying the same detergent she used.
I approached this new-found mission with the same determination that has earned me some not-so-very-nice nicknames in the past. Nothing and no one would stand in my way until I had what I wanted.
Now in the middle of the laundry aisle, I puzzled over the great wall of choices erected before me and tried to remember the color of the detergent bottle that sat on the shelf above Grandma’s washing machine. “Was it blue or orange?” Since I couldn’t remember, I decided trial and error would be the most effective course of action. Inwardly chanting my mantra of “divide and conquer,” I began smelling each of the detergents and asking her, “Which one did you use? Wasn’t it Tide?”
It wasn’t long before I began to see flowers circling in a mountain breeze. Underneath a hallucinatory Sun the beautiful Surf swelled, crashed, and then ebbed onto the Pure, Crystal White sand shore. I Whisked out my wallet to count cash as I contemplated buying one of each and began to sway with the gentle wave of lilac fields. My dizzy eyes began to water with ocean mist. I didn’t feel so Fab. I had lost All my Cheer. About this time, crazy kicked in.
“I think it was Tide, wasn’t it? It was! It was Tide!!” (Insert: stars in eyes, butterflies, and cutesy bunny tail.) Happiness was within my grasp. In my mind I could see Gran sitting at the kitchen table with a girlish sparkle in her eyes. Leaning in for a hug and kiss, I could smell her sweet fragrance. A twist of the detergent’s cap and I could transport back in time before cancer took her hugs and kisses away.
“Wait a minute! This doesn’t smell the same! Did they change the scent Gran?” I took another sniff. “They did! They changed the scent!! NOOOO!!!! This MEANS WAR!!!! (Delete: stars in eyes, butterflies, and cutesy bunny tail; Insert: the Hound of Hades, horns, pitchfork, and black fishnets.)
I was pretty upset, and doing my best Moriarty impression when I turned toward my shopping cart and realized my theatrics had been observed. Opposite my cart stood a sweet, little, Southern, grey headed elderly lady. She looked a little shaken.
“Are you okay, dear?” she said exactly like someone who does not want to know.
“I’m fine ma’am,” I replied, rubbing the ocean mist from my big brown eyes.
“Who are you talking to?” she asked a little too nosily, considering I was having a private conversation.
The little old lady looked up and down the aisle. Confusion reigned in her expression. Above, a fluorescent light began to hum eerily; flickering on and off. Broken conversations mixed with the echoing screech of rusty wheels on shoppers’ carts. The scri-scri-scritch sound of disembodied footsteps against the linoleum tile floor surrounded us while perky Christmas music swelled over the PA. Somewhere, a baby cried.
“Did you lose her?” the lady asked, and I know what she meant. She meant to imply that I was having a conversation with someone who had left me behind while continuing on to the next aisle. She meant to inform me that I was standing alone, mistakenly talking to myself.
“Yes, I sure did lose her.” I excused myself and walked away.
A little while later, I arrived home without any detergent and scowled at the near-full laundry hamper. No time for laundry when one has a detergent industry to destroy. Also, I had decided to ban the phrase, “a new normal,” from the entire world’s phraseology. I want the old normal. I REFUSE to Serenity. Accept the things I cannot change? Oh Hell NO!!
Then I paused, “If I don’t stop upsetting little old ladies, I will seriously end up in a straitjacket.” All I wanted was one touch; a hug, a kiss, a caress.
The words of the mystic poet whispered from some place I’d hidden within…
“I look in every corner, desperate with hope, but she’s not there.
My house is so small, anything I lose won’t be coming back
But your house is infinite, Lord, and seeking her has brought me to your door.
I stand under the golden canopy of the evening sky lifting my eyes to you
Here at the brink of eternity, nothing vanishes –
Not hope or happiness or the sight of her face seen through tears.
Now dip my empty life into your ocean,
Plunge me into its deepest fullness!
And I shall feel her sweet lost touch in the cosmic All.”
With the words of Tagore, God comforted me, “as a mother comforts her son,” and I was embraced like a babe beneath her wing. In touching God I touched my Grandmother and all that I had ever lost in any lifetime, in any tragedy. I touched Eden, innocence, and complete acceptance.