He littered. The guy in a red pickup truck flat-out littered. I decided it was a man—I couldn’t quite tell. He threw a bright yellow box with a red logo on it (Bojangles, maybe) right out his window. The box landed on the highway right in front of me. I crushed it. That thing had probably surrounded a sausage biscuit or a couple of pieces of fried chicken. You know it smelled good.
We drove 75 miles an hour on I-40 East, past Raleigh. I was headed to a week-long mostly silent writing retreat. He was obviously headed to Hell.
I forget sometimes what a safe bubble of a world I live in at home in Greensboro. I have a reddish-brown leather chair with a back that reclines and a matching ottoman. That chair and ottoman fit my short body and sometimes-sore back better than any chair ever. I read the paper and fall asleep in it.
My husband has changed out the 50-year-old worn brass doorknobs for new lever ones. Some of the old ones are too hard for me to turn. A couple of lamps are modified, too. One turns on when you touch any metal part and one has a big screw instead of a knob to turn. My husband has a lot to do with my bubble being safe. I have a Tempurpedic bed and pillow that support my back and let my joints rest peacefully. I sleep well and long on it, especially when it’s cold and we use the poufy down comforter.
My bubble includes friends who I am sure do not litter. I doubt if most ever eat fast food from a clam shell box in the car and the few who might, including my husband, would most likely recycle the box.
I live easily and peacefully inside my bubble with my husband, a few friends and, often, two daughters with grandchildren and husbands. They light up my soul.
I have commitments. They fit in my bubble, too. I spend time at a day center for people who are HIV positive called Higher Ground. Sometimes I help my church bring in lunch, sometimes I lead a writing group, and other days I just hang out. I feel safe there. I can be myself. I know their secret and they trust me enough to tell me their stories. I learn from them every time I go.
A while back I wrote a blog post titled “You Can Tell By the Shoes.” A friend and I traveled in her minivan to Atlanta for the Spiritual Directors International Conference. There were to be 500 of us at a huge hotel and conference center. We waited in a slow line to check in.
“Hey look, Marjorie,” I said. “Look at people’s shoes—you can tell who is one of us.” I wore clunky Teva sandals and so did she. At least we didn’t wear socks with them. Other (younger) women wore pointy-toed, stylish shoes, even with tight jeans and t-shirts, that clicked on the polished, bare floor. Our shoes maybe squeeched a bit and our pants were not tight.
Now I’m at a Women’s Writing Retreat for a week at a big house close to the beach with 7 other women. We line up our shoes by the front door. Sandy or dirty shoes we wear outside, then we switch to clean shoes or slippers or just socks. I didn’t pack my super-thick European hand-knit cotton slipper-socks so I just wear regular black socks.
Here’s what I see by the door at 4:30pm on a cloudy, chilly Sunday afternoon:
4 pairs of broken-in sneakers, for serious walkers, maybe.
2 pairs of black clogs, one SAS and one Merrell.
1 pair of tall black Ugg boots. I’ve never tried one on. I almost did just now but I decided that would be nervy and rude.
1 pair of slip-on Reikers.
I pair of flip-flops. She must have been outside.
1 pair of brown Finn Comfort loafers.
And, yes, I did look inside to see the brands.
I am with my people, again. No clickety soles.