While Christmas shopping, I stood behind one of them in the long, long bathroom line at the department store. She looked a little like a jeans-clad Auntie Em. “I say we storm the men’s room,” she announced, elbowing me conspiratorially. “We can do it if there are several of us. Are you in?”
I laughed and nodded, but this was before I realized she was serious. “It’s not like I’ve never done that before,” she laughed. Well, me either, frankly. But I found out men get very upset when women go into their bathrooms, even though all of those stalls just sit there while we needlessly suffer. Go figure! But besides that, men’s rooms creep me out a little. That foreign wall décor is just icky….
My almost-partner-in-crime, Auntie Em, was a little miffed with me when she found out I was a wimp. That’s okay. She was still my hero just for thinking about it.
Then there was the woman I talked to at my hiking group. She had to be close to twenty years older than I am. In town visiting her mother, she said. The mother was in her nineties. The daughter, the hiking one, is a therapist, she told me. Still working, of course.
When she started asking questions about me and I told her I was divorced, she turned to study me for the first time. Her eyes took my breath away for a second. My mother’s eyes. Fierce eyes. Fiercely sharp and fiercely good, all at the same time. She pronounced me a “courageous woman” in a way that made me feel frightened and moved and oddly transparent. I like to believe that sometimes God sends people to deliver the messages we most need to hear. Courageous woman. I secretly carry these words like a totem, a gift from a wise Earth Mother, hug them close to my soul.
She told me about her various groups. Biking is over, she lamented, as is kayaking. And swimming of course. So she hikes. That was when I realized she had been slowing her pace to stay behind enough to talk to me, because I was starting to get a bit winded on the hills.
I know who I want to be like…when I don’t grow up. Happy New Year!