Where Are We Really?

With the fridge on the fritz and no repair possible until June 23, (I’m going to try to figure that out on Monday by calling Sears), I was thinking of going INTO the supermarket MYSELF, which, except for twice in Colorado Springs, I haven’t done since March 2020. But, out of habit, I went online and “built my order,” and then I paid for it meaning I wasn’t going in the store.

I’m glad I didn’t.

There’s a new kid bringing out groceries. Today was the second time I’ve seen him. I watched him walk to my car. He very carefully walked along the curb then used the crosswalk to get to my car. No one does that. I thought, “This is a different kind of mind.”

Soon after he got to my car, Destinee came running out with her lunch. We had a big hug and the kid carefully put the groceries into the back of my car and went over my one substitution. Destinee said, “I love this woman. I do. I love you.” I was a little embarrassed and made a joke about white people don’t go around saying stuff like that. I told the story about how it was when my mom was sick and dying and my family told me not to cry. I told them how I was happy to get back from Montana to my class on the border of Mexico and the US. It’s a culture where people could hug and say things to each other much more easily than people in my family ever could. Destinee and I stood there holding hands and talking.

I noticed Miguel’s name tag and introduced myself. “Miguel,” I said. “I’m Martha.” I put out my hand to shake. He took it with a hand that wasn’t made right.

“Miguel’s a really cool guy,” said Destinee. “He has Aspergers and Turrets.”

“Way to go, Miguel,” I said as if I thought it was great. He smiled all over his face.

“We don’t say Aspergers anymore,” he explained. “They just say Autism. I used to think I was stupid and I felt really bad about myself, but now I don’t. I know I’m smart. Sometimes in school when I would tell my teacher about one of my interests she would say, ‘Wow. I learned something from you today.'” He looked at me with an expression that asked for acceptance.

I listened thinking it was certainly true, but also that I loved that teacher. “That’s awesome, Miguel, I just figure each of us is an individual and we’re all strange one way or another.” Miguel nodded. It’s a comment that might have insulted someone else, but he got it.

“I love this woman,” Destinee said, hugging me. “Miguel is doing great here, aren’t you?” Destinee asked him.

“Yes!” he said. “I love it here. I was working at Walmart, and they cut my hours, then Little Caesars, but that wasn’t enough to live on. I had to catch illegal fish to feed my cat. Now I have a fishing license.” He patted his wallet. My heart thumped hard. “Now I’m making enough money to pay all my bills!” He said goodbye and went back inside, carefully using the crosswalk (no one does and cars don’t stop anyway). Destinee stayed out and we caught up on each others news.

As I drove away I felt some of the euphoria I used to feel teaching. I can’t explain it, but it came from a particular kind of contact with certain young people. I also wondered again at the changes in this world, in my life, since Covid. If 2020 had never happened, that conversation would never have happened. I would have continued in the way I have since I was a kid and my mom sent me to the store. Grabbing a cart, pushing it around, putting stuff in it, taking it to the cash register, paying for it, hauling it out to my car, putting it in my car and going home. I wouldn’t have had THAT conversation and what a loss to me if I hadn’t?

23 thoughts on “Where Are We Really?

  1. MAK, this is another reason I love you (hey, I agree with Destinee). What a beautiful post. I’m so proud of Miguel and Destinee. And I’m so glad they’re in your life. This is really the beautiful parts of life we all need. Love, Karla and Finn ❤️💛🤗🐶

  2. A silver lining moment in this pandemic craziness. Thanks for sharing such a lovely story. He was also lucky to be the one to bring out your groceries…and meet you. ❤️

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