“Are you the store manager?” the liquor vendor asks.
“No, I’m just part time. Started this week.”
I am working at a local convenience store on the poor side of town where I now live.
“I’m just doing this part time to pay my basic bills so that I can do what I want.”
“And what is that?,” he asks.
“I have a computer app that is my passion. I host Sacred Circles. I do webinars and events. I just bought ten acres of land, and I want to do things on there.”
It rather feels as if I might be able to do that there as well. Because it is not the side of town with all the fancy subdivisions, it feels as if there is more community. These are Alabama locals. And compared to the plastic world that I am more familiar with, 85% of their customers pay in cash. Blue collar work trucks, construction crews, concrete workers, dump truck drivers, electricians and poor people. Women wearing chemo scarves. Another tells me, “I keep losing weight each week. Don’t know why.” Bony. Stumbling. Hobbling. But I watch all of them keep going.
Dimes and nickels poured out on the counter. And then apologies for it.
This week my friend’s daddy went to heaven. I have followed her on her journey with him these past months. My daddy has been in heaven almost thirty years. Sometimes it does not seem like a bad place to be. He is waiting for me. Now her’s is waiting for her.
Om Namah Shivaya. Carry me home.
Yesterday, seven hour surgery for a relative of mine to remove the cancer.
Customer stumbles in sweating and stumbling. I ask him if he is okay, and he says no. Inoperable tumor on his brain stem. Five young children. Wife just out of rehab. His vision is all out of whack due to the tumor.
He is one of the one who pays for his two packs of the cheapest cigarettes with change to the penny.
Faces whirling in my mind. The eyes of my homeless mentally ill uncle slowly dying in a hospital alone.
And oh the money spent on alcohol and tobacco and marijuana. Dulling the pain. Fuel to keep going. Keep moving.
There are better ways I say in my brain. Put back the liquor.
Finally I am off for the week and home alone. So much to do but me first.
Shiva carry me home. By Tim Chalice.
I turn up the music. I dance. I drum. I sweat. I cry. I spin. I scream. Sing. I lay on the floor.
I tell Life that sometimes it sucks.
I tell Life it hurts. I cry some more. Scream some more. Spin. Dance. Another song comes on and then another. I am dizzy and sweating and crying. But not stopping. Because I am off their merry go round of prescription pills and alcohol and illegal drugs. I will no longer play. And the piper must be paid somehow.
My friend says that is why she does not go to that store. It is too sad.
It is all around us. Even if you do not look.
Instead I look to the helpers. The healers. The clerk I work with who has a smile and friendly welcome to everyone. Her Alabama ‘Baby’ this and ‘Baby’ that. Many come in just to see her I can tell. Hang by the counter catch a smile and a sweet voice. She has their cigarettes on the counter as they are walking up. She knows their loyalty phone numbers. She is The Mother.
I take smoke breaks. I don’t smoke. But I need the three minutes. I sit on the grass under a tree. When I quiet my mind and breathe, I see a flower. I see an eagle flying by.
The other part time worker asks what I am doing under the tree. “Are you okay?”
Yes. I am fine.
“There are better ways,” I tell her in my mind. Better ways. They are coming.