Being There in the Alley

The other evening, with Bear on the golf course, I was ready for the imperatives of the time. I had headed out wearing a ski buff and was prepared to lift to cover my face although there are few people around. About 20 minutes out, I spied a man and his daughter coming our way.

I stopped, pulled Bear close and asked her to sit, my usual way of preparing Bear to meet new people. I’d mostly forgotten the “great imperative” of our moment. I lifted the ski buff. The man said, “It’s OK, it’s OK. We’re going to walk around you.” There was PLENTY of room, like the WHOLE golf course. He was very concerned that I was afraid.

I kind of woke up inside to something. “Thank you,” I said.

“She looks happy,” he said, looking at Bear who was disappointed at not meeting the people, but putting a good face on it.

“This is her happy place. Have a beautiful evening!”

“You too.”

I wanted to cry, touched by that man’s consideration of an older woman who appeared to be afraid. I wasn’t afraid. I’d mostly forgotten where we are right now and when I remembered I wasn’t sure what to do. It’s just weird.

Monday, when I got home from my ramble in the Big Empty, I was in a great mood in spite of the stupid woman who was letting her dog run where she shouldn’t. My neighbor hurried over with a flash drive on which the whole mailbox accident had been recorded. I asked her how she was and she said, “Meh.” I kind of teased her about feeling “Meh.” Later, I felt bad about teasing her. Godnose we humans have myriad reasons for feeling “meh” in normal times. I texted her apologizing. She said it was OK for me to tease her, but…

Yesterday we met in the alley (as per usual) and shared about this “Meh” thing. Tuesday I was “Meh.” We talked about the virus which turned out to be the source of our “Meh.” As she said, “Everyone has an opinion about what we should do.”

That’s true and moreso in her case because she has grown kids with families (and opinions). I explained my position which is the virus is nature. “I wish we’d had more snow last winter, but I’m not out demonstrating about it.”

“That’s a good point,” she said.

“Lot’s of people are never in nature. They don’t really know what it is.” I might have said, I certainly think it. We talked about the farmers. We’re sure they might be wearing bandanas against the dust out there planting potatoes, but are they “social distancing”? Why would they be? My “Big Empty” is a postage stamp in this immensity. We talked about how lucky we are here. We haven’t faced a lot of the shortages people have faced in other places. We don’t have crowds of people living here. She shared how she likes some of the changes to her life, changes I understand. I made some of them by choice when I moved here.

Nothing earthshaking in the conversation, just camaraderie. JUST camaraderie…and empathy. I’m more convinced every day that the best thing we can do for each other right now — and maybe all the time — is just BE there.

26 thoughts on “Being There in the Alley

  1. I agree, Martha, we should work hard at just being there. One of my difficulties doing that right now is knowing that many of the people in my neck of the woods who go grocery shopping without a mask are doing it for purely political reasons and with not a thought for the health of others. Makes it hard to give a shit about reaching out.

    • That’s their trip, Denny. There’s no need to reach out to them. It’s pointless and self-destructive. “Being there” means BEING there in reality and those guys are NOT in reality, they think they can make it snow by bitching at the sky.

        • Denny, you might have already figured out that I like individuals but in general people disgust me. QAnon. I will have to read the article. When I watch Trump talk live, sometimes on Fox, I see them. Trump2Q2Q and I think, “I wish you were all dead.” I KNOW I’m not non-violent and basically believe that people need to earn their right to live. I try to keep all that under control a bit — that being one of the requirements of having the right to live. But that brings us back to that good vs. evil question again… Sigh.

          • Round and round we go, hmm? A favorite song from the 90s keeps going through my head, “Stop the World” by Extreme, from their outstanding album _III Sides to Every Story_. Check it out on YouTube sometime!

            • It’s OK. I have a hard time with that style of journalism. I want to know what’s going on and in the last 20 years the way journalism presents its stories has changed, I think because of the Internet, though that seems illogical to me. The summary of the article was very good. 🙂

  2. I had to explain this to a supervisor of mine: I don’t want your ideas, your opinions, your thoughts. I just want you to be there. Resist the urge to offer more because I am not requesting anything more than for you to just be there.

  3. Yes! Yes! Just be there. Don’t tell me what to do or try to fix me. Be There. Empathy please. And I will return the favor. 😊 Thanks for this post.

  4. Sadly, I think a lot of people have forgotten how to “be there”, whatever “there” might be to them. Empathy, camaraderie, etc, that requires much more than clicking a “like” button and sending thoughts and prayers is entirely foreign to them. While I really enjoy being a solitary hermit right now, I’m grateful for the people who’ve reached out to check up on me these days.

    • Me too. I’m grateful just to live on the block I live on in this small town. I agree, too. People are busy and distracted, looking for something and passing by what is right in front of them. Me too. 😦

  5. Sometime I have a hard time being there when where I’m being gets over run by people who shouldn’t be there! Tomorrow is another day and I will have the opportunity to be there for a friend’s birthday – a kind of quarantine greeting from the end of her driveway…

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