Sweet Nadine

“Our parents, daughters, and sons
Believed in the power of songs
What if those days are gone
My memory is strong
Anyone not dying is dead
And baby it won’t be long
So shut up and carry on
The scream becomes a yawn”
– Metric
“Dreams So Real”

I imagine she’s old enough to have grand kids by now, and if she does have grand kids, I can nearly guarantee she’s as much or more of a mother to them as their biological mom. She’s a black lady, strong and wiry inside her long-sleeved shirt of red – required Target™ shade of red. She carries herself with the confidence and resident weariness of a survivor. But the hard times she’s maneuvered through have bestowed her far more wisdom than bitterness. And her strength does not detract from her kindness. I glean all this during a 30 second interaction in the Target™ checkout line during a characteristically frantic morning on the way to work.

“How you doing this morning?” she asks, in a tone that hints at the obligatory nature of the question.

I’ve grown an aversion to falsehood in myself, so I work to maintain sincerity when answering questions like this, despite how often they are questions rooted in nothing. “It’s Friday, so I guess I’m doing pretty all right.” I say.

As she scans the barcode on my pack of Tully’s™, she glances up, not with her head – only her eyes – peers at me for a second or two through thin, gold-rimmed spectacles. “Yeah,” she says, “Life can get very busy, can’t it?”

It’s difficult to explain; I suppose it’s something in her passing glance, but her common words carry themselves in an uncommon way. It is more like she’s saying, “I get it. I understand. We are in this together. Remember me, and I will remember you.”


7 replies »

  1. Love this: The understanding between two human beings who recognize each other as such. We’re all in this together, she says when she looks at you. And she’s right.

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