I’ve been hanging onto an alicorn’s wings. Maybe I’ll ask Peter Pan nicely to teach me how to fly and make besties with Wendy Darling and The Lost Boys. I wonder if he has an alicorn? I do know he has some mermaid friends and then there’s also Tiger Lily. Typical boy. I want to give Wendy some womanly advice, but I have a feeling she already knows. So maybe I’ll go have a chat with Smurfette and suddenly not feel so alone anymore. Mera will show me how she controls water and what it’s like to be married to Aquaman. Then I’ll be able to wash away all the Dementors attacking my mind. I’ll be able to focus on Ursula and finally tell her to go away with Expecto Patronum. No singing necessary. Once I hit the sand I’ll wave good-bye to the Loch Ness Monster. The pumpkin on the ground will turn into a carriage and my alicorn will chill with all the horses and we’ll bibbidi bobbidi boo our way home. I know Harry Potter’s got a hippogriff. I may need to try to hang onto one of those wings next time.
I have a green cow-shaped eraser from the fifth grade that I have never used before. It sits on my bookshelf being all cute and flawless and looks at me with those “please-don’t-erase-anything-and-ruin-my-cute-cow-butt” eyes that I cave and just let it be. I think it’s comfortable on my shelf where I have left it for God knows how long. I got it with one of my best friends at the time, but I can’t for the life of me remember where I got it from. Maybe at a Scholastic book fair? Do they sell erasers at those? Wow, now that I think about those book fairs, I really really really miss those! I got my very first Harry Potter book there and it was the last copy of Book 3 since Books 1 & 2 were sold out. The librarian running the book fair told me to write my name in the book because it was so popular and mix-ups were likely if I didn’t. So Book 3 ended up being the only one I have my name in because I ordered all subsequent books online after that. But back to my eraser. What’s the point of having erasers in different fun shapes and characters if you can’t bring yourself to erase anything with them? Or sometimes it’s the memory associated with them that stops you from using something you own. I think this one is a little bit of both. The cow is too perfect to ruin and the best friend I had when I got it was one of the best best friends I have ever had. No joke. I know that kind of thing is hard to measure universally, but in my book she was the best and it’s probably one of my biggest regrets not staying in touch with her after all this time. I have other things that she gave me or remind me of her besides this eraser, but those things are put away in my childhood box. (Yes, I have this cardboard box where I keep some things that were too special to me from my childhood to throw away.) I haven’t looked in that box for a while now, not even during this pandemic. But I do get to look at that eraser every time I say “hello” to my books. It’s a constant reminder to me that once you find that one best friend who is the best best friend you have ever had, you never let them go.
It’s been 1.5 years since Dad passed and lately all I can think about is what he looked like right after he passed. I play the images over and over in my mind from the day at the hospice and the day at our private viewing and remember how cold he felt when my lips touched his forehead to kiss him “good-bye.” My mind keeps blocking out images of my mother weeping next to me at the hospice and the funeral home because selfishly, I don’t want to cry uncontrollably while I’m doing the dishes, or working from home, or trying to fall asleep, or looking out the window, or taking a shower, or reading a book, or driving to the grocery store. 1.5 years and it still feels like it just happened. You just want to be able to talk to him again. To hear him laugh again. To see him find another way to tease Mom again. To watch him hit another golf ball into the pond again. To hear him say, “Time’s up! Time’s up! Time’s up!” when you’re taking too long to get ready for work in the morning. To watch an NBA game on TV with him again. 1.5 years and all I can do is finally shed some real tears when I get to the part in my J.K. Rowling book where Harry Potter loses his godfather Sirius Black. Harry Potter, I feel you. I was too young and naïve when I read it the first time. I really get it now.
Mondays are when our trash and recycling pick up happens. It’s easy to watch it happen when you are always at home. I can work and look out the window at the same time when I hear the trucks coming. I can see if they like that I put our trash on top of our recycling to prevent the wind from littering. (So far, the recycling truck picks up the trash bag and tosses it aside before dumping the contents of our recycling bin into the truck. I’m guessing this means they prefer the trash standing on its own, not on top of the recycling bin.) I can pull an Aunt Petunia and see when our neighbors’ trash is put out too late or when the wind starts littering their trash when they put it side by side their recycling bin the night before when Chicago winds gusts through the ‘hood.
I can see all of this and suddenly all I can think about is my ninth grade American Government teacher. He said he is grateful for the government because without it it’d be very stinky in the world and there’d be no mail. Well, just as I can watch the trash pick up every Monday, I can watch the mail carrier every day if I wanted to. He was right. During these uncertain times, I’m truly glad we still have trash pick up and mail. It’s just I hope I haven’t been taking these services for granted and I hope I never do. It’s funny the things we notice now that we are at home all the time.
OK I just got back from the grocery store and it seems to me that America loves their eggs, meat (especially beef), bread, and pasta. But nobody cares about washing their clothes or eating candy. Some have started wearing face masks, while many more have started wearing disposable gloves. Whenever someone coughs, about 10 or so heads turn to look and those 10 or so try to move away. When the cashier asked if I found everything OK, I mention I didn’t get any chicken and he says I have to get here at 7 in the morning if I want chicken. Good to know.
I remember when I was in high school, my dad tried to tell me that I don’t want to stay a cashier in the grocery store for the rest of my life. I know what he was really trying to say: he looks down on those people because his daughter has the potential to do so much more with her life than just be a cashier. Back then I knew what he meant, but I didn’t know what he meant at the same time. Makes sense? Because what does it mean to be just a cashier? Is it because the job itself is not too complicated and anyone with some high school education can do it? Are people who go to college and beyond automatically more respectable or something? Or is it because there’s a class division that is decided by what job you have and cashier is on the low end?
Flash forward to me talking to a friend a few years ago at her house about what he said. She and I both came to the conclusion that we disagreed with my dad. I told her that the cashier in the grocery store might just be the most important person in the world. Well, now here we are. I was right. This You-Know-Who virus sure showed us of Lord Voldemort proportions that if there is no cashier at the grocery store, you don’t get to eat. Well, unless there’s self-checkout. (That is so not the point!) Flash forward a few more years and my dad’s no longer here to tell me what he really thinks. I am in no way trying to paint him as a bad guy. He really did have his reasons for saying about cashiers what he did and probably I am the only one besides my mom who really gets it. All I’m saying is, when all is said and done, there’s nothing wrong with being a cashier at a grocery store.