On a sunny spring Friday afternoon, I’m outside a St. Johnsbury car dealership, waiting for a recalled part to be replaced on my car.
A warm breeze blows up and drifts dust over my keyboard.
90 minutes later, I’m finished, and stop in the downtown. The doors of all the businesses are open. I wander into the bookstore, lift a book, and read — a casual gesture in a public space that I may not have done for a year, or more.
I open a book of poetry randomly and read:
You may have to break
your heart, but it isn’t nothing
to know even one moment alive. The sound
of an oar in an oarlock or a ruminant
animal tearing grass. The smell of grated ginger.
The ruby neon of the liquor store sign
I have the strangest rush through my body, a tingling all the way down to my fingers.
On my way home, I stop in at a store and buy mayonnaise and two avocados at my daughter’s request. I walk out holding these things, blinking in the hot sunlight.
In the parking lot, a woman driving a pickup rolls down her window and remarks about the lovely weather, saying how happy she will be to get home. I nod, and we talk for a moment.
When she’s left, I stand with those things in my hands, on this ordinary afternoon, doing this ordinary errand. Someday, not too far off, this daughter will be out sourcing her own mayonnaise.
Our quarantine with Covid has likely turned my hair irretrievably to gray. So be it. Our lives were never meant to stay burnished and unblemished. I stand there, suddenly amazed at my good fortune, and then I head home for BLTs.