It feels like people are “getting back to their roots” in this COVID-19 and lockdown environment. I mean: calling one another, cooking more—you know you can’t find flour and yeast some places because so many people are baking bread?, walking more, reading, doing puzzles, gardening, etc etc.
The other day I was on a walk at the beach. I walk barefoot with my feet in the water. I love to feel the sand under my feet and the cold Pacific Ocean splashing on my feet and calves. I saw a woman walking ahead of me with three little dogs. I recognized her gait…it was Cindy. I never forget a face or a gait. The first month of college, when all my suite-mates in the dorms still spoke to one another, we all sat in the common area (living room) hanging out, I imitated everyone’s gait according to how I heard them walk. It surprised everyone how accurately I mimicked the way they walked, or stomped in some cases. Anyhow, I can’t help that I’m observant.
I called to Cindy, “Hello! Cindy! Good morning!” And I started walking towards her.
She called back a generic hi, not recognizing me at first. And then she screamed in typical Cindy fashion, “SALLY!!”
“You’re so beautiful!” She said enthusiastically.
“Ugh, Cindy, I’ve gained weight and—”
She cut me off, “The correct answer is thank you. Anyways, what’s wrong with you? You’re your worst critic. You’ve always been so hard on yourself. You know what I do when I look in the mirror? I tell myself ‘you’re beautiful, Cindy.'”
“You’re right, you’re totally right,” I responded, “thank you.”
We walked and talked. She used to work at the coffee shop on campus where I work and we hadn’t seen each other in two or three years. We walked pretty slowly because she had an old dog with her but that was OK. I was so happy to be chatting with her and taking in the morning sun.
When we got to the end of the beach she offered to give me a ride home. She wanted to see where I live because we were neighbors. But first she wanted to show me her garden. So we went to her house and walked through her garden. I love when people like to show me their gardens.
She drove me home in time for my first zoom call, a bag of lemons and a bouquet of red roses from her garden in tow. She called me later in the day and told me she had several plants for me.
“Thank you!” I said, “do you want to bring them by or–“
She cut me off, “I’m not going anywhere, I’ve been drinking tequila.”
“I love you, Cindy.” I told her, “Can I come by now?”
She gave me a hydrangea bush. And a bag of potting soil. And a bag of fertilizer. And red geraniums, I only had pink in my garden. And succulents. And a jade necklace because she wanted me to have it. She filled up my whole car with buckets of cuttings and clippings.
“I want the buckets back,” she called at me as I left with all my new plants.
The next day I brought back her buckets with two bottles of wine. She was thrilled.
The day after that, on my way out of town to Lemoore to help with family, I brought her a can of Thai curry paste and two cans of coconut milk, which is what the recipe on the side of the can of curry paste calls for, plus vegetables and/or chicken to make delicious curry.
She texted me the next day, “Wow Sally that curry was amazing ..where did you buy the curry paste ??? “
I told her I had got it at the Asian Variety Store in Lemoore and did she want more?
“Yes please like 3 cans I’ll pay you for it”
I responded, “You can pay me in plants”
“I love that …barter system is highly underratted”
Isn’t that the truth? Hopefully this COVID-19 thing and all the changes that shutdowns and shelter-in-place have brought teach us that we need much less than we thought (or think) we did. Or maybe things weren’t quite working for humanity. Maybe we need a little step back to our roots. Not in the, abandon technology and ignore the advances that we’ve made with modern medicine and whatnot. But in the sense that maybe we can incorporate some more humanity in our society? Can we forevermore bring our friends and neighbors food and lemons and plants? And call one another? And bake bread?