Saturday, October 5, 2013
Birthdays, Slippers, and Serendipity
I never work on my birthday so, like every year, my expectations for the day are always high. I did see my family and a friend but my sorrow over an event that never ended up occurring, crowded out the joys of the day. I did, however, cheerlessly open my gifts, one of which was a new pair of plush and pretty bedroom slippers. At the end of the day, I cleared away the tangle of ribbons and wraps and thoughtlessly put my new slippers on the closet floor, shut the door on them, and went to bed.
Today had a dreary start but I collected my mother and we went to a small favorite restaurant for lunch. First we had to stop at a beauty apothecary to pick up an item I am to review for an upcoming writing gig. When I arrived at the shop, there was a beautiful and generously put together gift bag for me with my name on it. Colored tissue paper peeked out and it was tied with streamers in frosty pastels. Somehow, it cheered me. My mother and I had chicken salad sandwiches at the lunch place and imagined or not, our lovely young Russian waitress seemed to be particularly attentive to us, making eye contact with me, fetching extra lemon slices for my iced tea, and hovering close by. Mom and I enjoyed our simple repast very much.
We made a stop at the stationers for greeting cards and it was there that I was complimented unexpectedly about, of all things, my skin. Explaining that I had just had a birthday and an extended crying jag to go with it, the proprietress gifted me a pink etching pen "as a belated birthday present". She presented it with a kiss on my cheek.
Our last stop was the craft store. The young woman that rang up the sale of my forest green ink pad asked me what it was to be used for. I told her I collect books and stamp them with a heart shaped trellis with my name in the center. She told me her mother collects books by a female author she could not recall the name of. Uncharacteristically, I heard myself advising her to find out the author's name and learn those special things about her mother now. The young woman's eyes misted over as she told me that her mother is very ill. We chatted quietly for a few more moments. Then, when I was backing the car out of our parking space, I heard a tap at my window. It was the young woman, "My mother collects Gladys Tabor. I just remembered!", she said brightly. I told her that if her mother read and collected Gladys Tabor, then she must be a very gentle person. I told her about a Gladys Tabor fan club online site I once happened upon and she hurriedly wrote her email address on a scrap of paper so that I could send her the link. My mother and I smiled at her happy face and the sweet brief connection.
I'm home now and I have since written to the young lady. I have also peered a few times into the mirror and although I see a face that turned a year older yesterday and had been wet with a plethora of tears, I liked what I saw. It was during one of these self examinations that I remembered the slippers and rushed to rifle through the closet floor until I found the slim cardboard box. I sat on the edge of my bed, tired but at last becalmed, and slid my feet into the soft slippers. I heard myself sigh about birthdays and expectations, lovely inconsequences and serendipitous everyday gifts that don't necessarily come in cardboard boxes.