[I’m interrupting the serialization of Estimated Time with a pre-Easter resurrection story.]
I know it’s not necessary for me to say that there have been a lot of changes in the past three years. We all know that and yet, I don’t think any of us really gets it or will get it until about ten years from now.
In the same the way we now have a deeper understanding of 9/11 and all the changes it brought, we will understand the past three years differently in 2032.
Right now we are still deep in the soup of the COVID pandemic, racial reckoning, insurrection, climate change and genocide. Not to mention our own personal losses and changes. Many of us are just trying to keep our heads above water. It’s not that there were no joys amidst the sorrows, it’s just that on balance, the sorrows outweighed the joys.
I mention all this to try to explain why last week a depression settled over me like a huge, muddy, wet, black Labrador dog who has romped in roadkill. A Lab with uncut claws and serious flatulence. A Lab who has not only cavorted in carcasses but ate them and is now sitting on my chest breathing in my face.
It was in this very state that I found myself in Central Market, hoping no one would notice this Dog of Depression. I was looking for a particular kind of salt and even though it was clear they were out, I found myself rooted to the spot, staring mindlessly at the tarragon, thyme and turmeric. Suddenly, to my left, appeared a woman. She was a good looking grandma, her gray hair in a topknot, nice sweater, sleek trousers, flat shoes. She was muttering under her breath and touching all the spice bottles.
I shifted under the Black Dog and found myself saying, “What are you looking for?”
“Juniper berries!” she said.
“Ah, yes. They are hard to find. I’ll help you.”
“No, they are out.”
I pushed the Dog’s face away from mine and said, “But I am A Finder of Things!” I went through every bottle on every shelf and, because I knew she couldn’t, I squatted down to look on the lowest shelves. No juniper berries. I sighed heavily and said, “The other place I’ve found them is Whole Foods on Roosevelt.”
“Roosevelt? I don’t where is Roosevelt.” I totally understood this. You can live in a place for thirty years and just never go to one part of town. For me, it’s Ballard. You may as well tell me to find a store in Salamanca, Spain than to direct me to somewhere in Ballard.
I had juniper berries at home. Perhaps I could take some to her house. I looked at my watch—doctor appointment in one hour. “Where do you live?”
Maybe I could put some in the mail. “When do you need them?”
“Tomorrow! I’m curing salmon. For Easter.” She looked stricken.
I felt the Black Dog dig its filthy claws in me. “I’m sorry,” I said. “They are hard to find. That’s why when I do find them, I buy a lot of them.” And then the thought occurred to me. I did buy a lot of them—a plastic bag full. “Oh, I know! One more place!” I heaved the Dog off me and sprinted around the corner.
I skidded to a stop at the Bulk Foods aisle and I heard her yelling, “Wait! Where did you go?”
“I’m here!” I yelled. “Ah-hah!” And there they were. A giant glass jar full of juniper berries. She took the jar off the top shelf because I couldn’t reach.
“Oh, thank you!” With a huge smile she clapped her hands to her cheeks and then came toward me with open arms. But I think she noticed I was wearing a mask and then thought the better of hugging me. I would have welcomed it. I would have hugged her back. For a long time.
Because of her, because of helping her do this one, tiny, little thing, the Black Dog was nowhere to be seen. He had run off—probably to the Meat Department. I was so grateful to her. My eyes filled with tears but I managed to give her a smile and brightly say, “Happy Easter!”
“Happy Easter to you!”
Once again it proved to me that in reaching out to others, we ourselves are healed. In helping a sister seek, what I needed, I found.
And so I went on my way, without my sought-after salt which I know I will discover somewhere else because—I am A Finder of Things.