I know a lot of my friends really, really dislike
going the grocery store.
I can empathize with why.
We all have busy lives.
Lives packed with too much to get done
in our limited waking hours.
And the hassle of going to the supermarket,
often with kids in tow,
can just be overwhelming.
Plus, there’s the battle for a parking space.
Rising food prices, limited resources,
will there be enough money to get everything on the list this time?
And then, there’s the long checkout lines.
But the truth is
I really love going to the grocery store.
Maybe that’s why grocery stores feature heavily in my novel?
I’m very far from anyone’s idea
of Suzie Homemaker, though.
I really dislike most household chores.
Can’t stand cleaning in any shape or form.
I usually end up breaking stuff whenever I do clean.
And I am not a good cook. I burn everything.
But oddly, I love doing laundry. (That’s a story for another day.)
I work from home.
And the mess from my desk tends to overwhelm the rest of my house.
Grocery shopping is a good excuse to get away from my own mess.
Get out into the world.
Plus, my repeated circumnavigating the store maze looking for where they moved the sunflower seeds counts as exercise.
But there are a couple more reasons I love going to the grocery store.
One of those is how much I love buying nourishing foods–
okay, maybe I love buying a comfort food or two, once in a while.
When it’s on sale.
Or every week.
But the biggest reason I love to go grocery shopping is…
that the store is a wonderful place
to practice kindness.
I know that sounds odd.
But the grocery store–even in my small town–
is filled with people I don’t know,
probably doing a chore they hate.
So while I’m wondering the aisles wondering where the devil
they moved the sunflower seeds to this time…
I look for someone who seems to need a little cheer.
Finding something kind to say is the easy part.
People have great haircuts,
interesting t shirts,
(yes, the employees deserve some kindness too)
wear colors that complement their skin.
Or maybe the person reminds me how at ease with myself I want to be when I grow even older.
There’s always something to say that brings a little light into a person’s day.
I love doing that.
It makes me feel a bit better too.
After bringing someone some cheer, I can face the rest of my work day with more energy.
Kindness is good exercise for the soul.
Do I worry that sometimes my good intentions will go awry?
Have they gone awry?
A nice old man thought I was hitting on him.
Well, that made his day, too.
So all in all,
kindness is worth the risk.
I am fortunate and grateful to share with my readers this exquisite essay by writer Sally McGee that speaks to all of us #metoo survivors with such grace and courage.
Sally McGee is a writer, community organizer, and nature conservancy advocate living on the Oregon coast. In the 1970s in New York, she worked tirelessly until rape survivors were treated by legal authorities with the dignity and respect they deserved as victims of a serious crime, instead of the blaming-the-woman mentality that prevailed for decades.
MELTDOWN by Sally McGee
The phone rings.
A neighbor was calling looking for a reference.
Some people I know want to rent his house.
Unable to get a letter of recommendation and having heard some unsavory things, he was looking for information.
Could I tell him anything?
I begin to shake and find it hard to get words out.
The man is big and menacing.
Often unemployed, he has drinking and anger management problems.
The police have been called.
What can I say?
I find it hard to talk and begin to stutter.
I am surprised at how shaken I am.
Things get worse as the week progresses.
The night descends and I crawl into bed.
The nightmares begin.
Growing up female in an out of control family, I was often afraid.
I wake feeling disjointed.
Something is trying to rise from my unconsciousness.
What my body knows, my brain has not yet figured out.
I am confused.
Monday I think is Friday. Wednesday is Monday.
Get it together! You are scaring people around you.
It is the trauma that is being brought forth from early childhood.
The trauma triggered by 11 white Republican men wanting to grill a sexual assault victim while her attacker looks on.
A woman who thought she was going to be murdered, the weight of a male body pinning her down.
His hand on her mouth stifling her screams while his friend looks on.
Some on the committee have already pronounced her guilty.
Senator Orin Hatch, well established member of the Republican power structure, next in line after the Speaker if something untoward happens to the President and the V.P., has pronounced her, “Confused”.
Virtually the same thing he said 20 plus years ago during the testimony of Anita Hill before the Judiciary Committee during the Clarence Thomas hearings and we know what the men did then.
If they win this one, it will be a Pyrrhic victory.
Too many women are watching and feeling the attack on Professor Ford to be an attack on them.
Old traumas are being re-lived.
Traumas that will spell the death of the Patriarchy.
And I say, “Thank God”.
Some years ago I spent 8 days in the Trinity National Forest in Northern California backpacking; 3 women, 3 dogs.
Leaving, the hardest part was saying good by to the trees.
There was no wrapping my arms around the trunk because of their mammoth size.
But I leaned into them and quietly spoke of my love.
The surprising thing was the response.
Clearly they said, “We love you.”
This forest burned in the fires of 2018 but destroying the Redwoods is next to impossible.
They were here in the beginning.
One of the oldest life forms.
Their presence is a gift that uplifts me and sustains my life.
And for them I am grateful.
With trauma in the news every day, I vow I will not be defeated.
All is not lost.
Life goes on.
I live in a community that was logged 100 years ago.
The trees were cut down and removed but their life not destroyed.
Many came back and today I walk among them some 60, 70 feet tall.
They are unusual looking because the cut made 100 years ago was 10 or more feet above the ground so the tree I see today has very large roots high above the ground.
I make my escape running to Sanctuary, the family home in Portland where my daughter and her B.F. live.
The house was built in 1915 and is in one of the older, close-in neighborhoods.
Craftsman houses and Bungalows surrounded by very large trees that were somehow spared 100 years ago.
Sanctuary and I am safe.
Surrounded by family and loving neighbors.
Children’s voices ring out.
It is music to my ears.
I rest and sleep.
Thank you, Sally McGee for your lovely words.
For a survivor like me in this treacherous time in our nation, your words are my balm and sanctuary.