Sunday, January 31, 2016

A Story of Connection

Yesterday, I was out with my darling husband, buying him some jeans for the start of his new job on Monday. He hadn't had any new jeans in years, and even though his new work's dress code is casual, there's the "hey, these jeans fit well and are in the current denim color fashion scheme" kind of casual versus the "these jeans are in the shapeless and well-worn-but-not-in-a-good-way kind of look that's good for shoveling snow in." I opted for the first kind.

So we went to JCPenney, and he started trying on jeans. I was amazed that he could go in the dressing room and walk out in a pair not two minutes later. Rinse, repeat. We hadn't gone clothes shopping together for him in a few years, so not only was I having fun (because hey, checking my husband's jeans for fit should be fun), but I was also nearly giddy that it wasn't taking forever.

Normally, when I'm out buying jeans, it's for my rapidly growing teenage sons. Don't get me wrong, I adore my boys, but shopping with them--especially one in particular--is a nightmare. What took me and James an hour to do would have taken at least twice that time with one of the teens.

When we went back to the dressing room so James could try on some shirts, there was a tired-looking woman standing there. Her son called from his stall saying that she'd lied about the length of his pants or some such thing. He came out and was a little rude to her.

My instant reaction was that I hoped she'd say something to him about his tone. But she didn't, and he went back in there along with his brother, who'd made an appearance during the discussion about the pants.

When she was alone again, I felt like I should reach out to her. So I said something along the lines of, "Shopping with teenage boys is hard."

She looked at me and sighed. "I'm his (she either said Path or math, I don't know which) teacher. He and his siblings have been living with their grandparents, and his grandmother died this week. The funeral is on Monday and he has  nothing to wear, so I took him to buy some clothes."

"That's very kind of you," I said. "What grade is he in?"

She smiled slightly. "Seventh. I told his grandfather he needed clothes, and his grandpa said, 'I've already bought him lots of clothes.' Then the boy said, 'Yeah, Grandpa, in fifth grade!"

Her face fell, and her shoulders sagged. This woman had the weight of a whole family of children on her shoulders, and they weren't even hers. "They are very lucky to have you," I said.

She was silent for a few moments, then said, "Thank you," Her face softened, and she stood a little straighter. "The whole neighborhood block is helping. We're taking turns to make sure they're okay."

The boys came out of the dressing room, and she said, "Thank you" to me, then turned to the boys telling them what they needed to wear to church the next day and then what to do to prepare for the funeral.

Do I always smile and talk to everyone when I'm out? No. But when the thought comes that says connect with that person, I do. Because it usually means they really need a little dose of whatever it is I can give. And if they don't? Well, it's good for me to give it anyway, which isn't always easy, since I get social anxiety. But every time I've done it, that decision has been the exactly right thing to do.

This week's goals focus on getting through the week. Sadly, the sale of our house fell through, but we're so happy James has a job! This week I'll be finishing a client edit, getting my book back from my alpha reader husband and revising, getting one child ready for a school trip to California, and doing my best with pain management. I will be taking  my husband to and from work until we can get another car, so with all that driving (nearly a hundred miles a day during the week) I'm going to have to fit other things in where I can, and that means not much else besides the basics. If my back and hip will let me, it'll be three days of PiYo this week. But I may have to change that to plain flexibility yoga until the pain lessens. Or lying in my bed between driving, editing, writing, and trying to clean the house. Yet I am so, so thankful because my kids have a great school, and this new job is exactly what we needed! *happy dancing*

See you on the flip side.

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