November 03, 2006

Casual encounter

I've shopped at the same grocery store my entire adult life. I can remember, in fact, when it was built, sometime during the 70s. How exciting it was to walk through for the first time with my friend Outdoor Girl and her mother. The store seemed huge compared to the tiny grocery stores we had always known. It had more than the traditional eight aisles and it sold stuff other than food. "Look at this! Socks! A grocery store that sells socks!" The idea stunned us.

By today's standards, Grocery Store Named After White Guy is small. When I walk in, I recognize the people who work there – and some of the customers as well. I like that. Grocery shopping can be a boring task, and chatting with people in my community makes the experience much more tolerable. Besides, talking to real people keeps me from talking to the grocery cart, a habit I got into during years of shopping with small children.

Last week, I bumped carts with a woman my age that I've met at a few times although I don't know her very well. She was choosing apples carefully, picking each one up for inspection. I was debating whether or not to buy butternut squash to make soup. No one else in my family really likes squash soup so I know if I make it, I will be eating it for a week.

So we had a relaxed conversation about how much candy to buy for trick-or-treaters (I buy none since we live on a deadend country road) and what kinds of food we like to make in the fall and where we were spending our Thanksgivings. We reminisced about how much more fun Halloween was when our kids were little. I told her that my oldest two kids were in college, and I was looking forward to having them home for a home month at Christmas.

As the conversation came to a close, and we began pushing our carts off in opposite directions, she paused and said in the most casual way. "Hey, say a prayer."

I stopped my cart. She fiddled with her purse and set it down in the empty childseat of her grocery cart.

"My son is in Iraq. He won't be home until March."

We looked at each other across a display of candied apples, and I nodded. Then she disappeared down the frozen food aisle.

21 comments:

Lisa V said...

A prayer indeed. Godspeed to all of them.

Alice said...

Wow, that's powerful.

Mother of Invention said...

Sometimes we collide for but a second and can still make a meaningful connection. Nice juxtaposition here.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

I LOVE SQUASH SOUP, mmmm, yum yum yum. Do you put milk in it? I don't. No butter either. A little onions and garlic and cayenne pepper and/or black pepper.

I've arrived in Snowstorm city at Sara's. It was snowing when I left auto city. Some snow on the ground along the way. Glad it wasn't worse. Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow.

purple_kangaroo said...

Such an evocative description. I hope her son comes home safely.

Whymommy said...

Wow. I don't know her, but I will say a prayer too. I wish they all could come home. Soon. I can't believe the war is dragging on like this. As a parent, it is harder and harder to understand.

Leslee said...

Sometimes we take the little things, like having our family close by, for granted. I wish the troops could come home for Christmas. Vaya con Dios.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

Have you been reading this? http://gocomics.typepad.com/the_sandbox/

BeachMama said...

And your prayer is why you bumped carts that day in the grocery store.

Prayers to her son and all the rest overseas at the moment, for both the US and Canadian troops.

Anonymous said...

May her son come home safely. May they all come home safely. And soon.

Patti said...

My friend's husband came home last week. She is GLOWING. He is my age (44)and he had to tell kids my daughter's age (21) what to do. The group he was in charge of spent their time looking for victims; they found loads (literally). He is much worse for the wear, and for what?

Anonymous said...

Curious Girl's teacher's son is in Iraq, too. I hope they all come home soon, and safe.

landismom said...

Wow. Powerful story. I hope he comes home safely.

kathy a said...

i think it is hard to say the hardest things going on in life -- but they are there at the surface. sometimes, a chance meeting and some shared ground is enough to let them out.

Mieke said...

Saying a prayer!

I love those types of fleeting yet meaningful human exchanges.

Kyla said...

I'm guilty of that. I think the reason people blurt HUGE things like that out at the end of a conversation is to escape the pain of actually discussing it.

I hope he makes it home safely. One of the guys in my graduating class (of 30 students) died over there. His mom works at my son's school and we see her at times. She always hugs us so tight...I feel like she's thinking of hugging him whenever she hugs us.

jo(e) said...

taittems: I make squash soup the way you do -- because you are the one who taught me how to make it.

Jennifer: I hadn't seen that site. Wow.

Kyra: Yes, I think you're right. I myself will often wait and blurt something out at the end of a conversation. Or else, I'll just put it in kind of casually, hoping a friend will ask and make me talk.

ppolarbear said...

(o)

Kyla said...

jo(e), if I really can't make myself talk about something, I bait the other person with "I need to talk to you about something later..." and then they ALWAYS drag it out of me. *lol*

Silver Creek Mom said...

Adding this Person to my list. Safe return.

Hugs

Yankee, Transferred said...

Sending loving thoughts to her son, in lieu of prayer.