AUTHOR: Beth TITLE: DATE: 5/20/2004 08:15:00 AM ----- BODY:

Remember the Love

five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes five hundred twenty five thousand moments so dear five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes how do you measure? measure a year in daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee, in inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife in five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes how do you measure a year in a life? how about love? how about love? how about love? measure in love
I am the most disorganized person ever to walk the Earth. No! Do not try to argue with me. This is not just being down on myself or fishing for compliments: this is cold, hard fact. Behold:
1. Last night I got home from work, walked into my room and...phew! It smelled musty. Not anything overpowering, you understand, not as if there were a dead body decaying beneath my bedsheets but a definite odor. This is because I haven't done laundry in an obscene length of time. To the point where my bedroom smells. How the hell am I going to manage an apartment when I can't keep up with one room? 2. Did I then do laundry right away? Nope. It's all still sitting there. The window's open, though. 3. I've been accepted into Phi Beta Kappa, one of those elitist societies for Ultra Smart People. I don't mean to denigrate it, though; my mother is a member also, and I had always secretly wanted to be in it, too. Problem is, when I was sent the membership cards to fill out and send back. I lost them. I managed to get the guy at UMass (a former professor of mine, fortunately) to send me more of them. "Please try to get them back right away," he said, which was him-speak for "You are a colossal pain in my ass." They arrived in the mail Saturday. I think. Where are they? In the back seat of my car, still waiting to be filled out and / or lost again. 4. Went to the dentist last night. Presented my insurance card proudly. Was told it's a medical / prescription card and I need a separate dental card. Do I have one? Not that I know of. Do I even have dental coverage? I thought so. 5. Speaking of pungent aromas, my car, despite my frequent promises to the contrary, has become a Dumpster again. The current Yankee candle car freshener scent? "Clean Cotton." It smells exactly like a dryer sheet, except more overpowering. How ironic.
So. I am bedraggled, distracted, disorganized. I get to keep my job, according to my boss on Tuesday, and at first I was going to jump at that apartment, but then I started thinking about how I'd have to sign a year lease, and what if what if what if... To put it simply, I am a complete and utter mess. As I pulled into the Dunkin' Donuts drive-thru this morning (Again! Spending money I don't have every day on a high-fat breakfast! Go me!), I was wallowing in my misery. What the Christ. I should look for a new job. With whose time? Need to do laundry and balance the checkbook tonight. Don't wanna. Have to. What does my credit rating look like? Should I just get a house and start paying off a mortgage because at least that's a tangible asset? Oh, okay, I don't want to sign a one-year lease on a freakin' apartment and I'm going to invest in a house? Have to remember that PBK stuff. Maybe I can overnight it. Great, score another one for me: what could have been a simple letter in the mail has turned into an expensive postal proposition. What the fuck is wrong with me? I ordered my breakfast sandwich and large regular coffee, cream no sugar, and pulled into the drive-thru lane. I stared at other people in their cars. One guy was rubbing his face compulsively. At first, I thought he was smoking, but then I realized that though he was making similar gestures he had nothing in his hand. Another guy with a big, bushy mustache looked to be picking his nose. I was known to be a nose-picker as a child, so I can't really judge. But in public? Maybe we're all a mess. I pulled up to the window, aware of the fact that the ladies inside the building had a nice angle from above to appreciate its Dumpster-like appearance. Then one of the women smiled at me. Not that half-hearted employee smile, but a real, genuine, warm smile. I smiled back. I hope. "How are you?" She asked, her words burred by a soft Indian accent, as if she really wanted to know. "Good, how are you?" I asked back. "Fine." Her smile was calm, placid, an enigma. The kind of smile you see on the Dalai Lama. She turned back to the register. As I handed her my money, she looked into my eyes and said, "I like your outfit. You look very pretty." People use the expression "that made my day" all the time, but I don't think they mean it most of the time. Often they'll say it about something small they see, overhear or buy, like a child, or a joke, or a candy bar. What they really mean is, "Wow. That managed to take my mind off my bankruptcy filing for five minutes". "That made my five minutes" would be more appropriate most of the time. It's rare, though, that something strikes you hard enough to make your entire day. This, however, was an example of the kind of thing that literally makes your day--takes it out of your hands, turns it around, and then gives it back to you as a gift. The kind of thing that makes a million things explode in your brain all at once in a moment of devastating clarity and connection. It doesn't matter if what she said was true or not. I didn't come away from it feeling so completely restored because I felt physically attractive. What solved the brain-tangle that was this morning like a Rubik's cube for me was the unfathomable kindness this woman had--the unutterable beauty of spirit that would make someone working the drive-thru early in the morning look down at a fat, unhappy girl in her Dumpster car and, out of all the things she could say, choose to tell me I'm beautiful. For no reason or reward but the expression on my face. You might be saying, Why is that a big deal? The Dunkin' Donuts lady complimented your outfit. Whatever. She was probably trying to get a tip. What proves to me that I've become a vastly different person now than I ever have been is that, while that would have been my response a year ago, now I say to that possibility, who cares? It was a blessing nonetheless, and if there's one thing I've learned, it's that you cannot let those gifts go by.