The day began on the porch as so many days have begun over the last two decades. Sweet sunlight filtered through the air, falling on the plants arranged near the new railing. I leaned back into the comfort of the rocking chair. The chair is not the original one which I placed on the porch in 1993 but one in a series found at thrift stores to replace the Amish one stolen in the night after I refused to sell it to a yard sale shopper.
I closed my eyes and wrapped my hands around the warmth of the crystal mug of coffee. Peace flooded through my veins, bringing its own warmth, its own soothing drug. For a few minutes, I focused on the good of that, ignoring the weakness in my calves and the crunching, searing pain in the small of my back. Lament could wait.
Several hours later, I emerged from a courtroom wanting a bath and hot tea. After cross-examining two social workers and a police officer about the filth in which they had found my five-year-old client and her brothers, and the little girl’s positive STD test, the gross unfairness of life’s lessons to those children overwhelmed me. But duty drew me back to the office and I slogged through five more hours of machinations attendant to the practice of law.
At five o’clock I pushed a little cart around the grocery store, assembling the accoutrements of solitary life. A carton of eggs (cage-free, in honor of my son’s insistence on social responsibility); a liter of LeCroix; gluten-fee pasta snagged from the top shelf by a woman shopper tall enough to reach. I threw in a few tins of wet dog food, knowing that I would not have the energy to drive the few miles for a slightly lower price at Big Lot’s. I paid for the small assortment, exchanging cheerful assurances of good health with the cashier and commiserating about the length of her work day.
Outside again, I rolled the cart towards my car, eyeing the distance and judging the potential for folly on the way. I cast a wary eye at a young man moving towards my Prius, then startled when he asked if he could help me. He didn’t work at the store. His clothes told another story: Expensive, coordinated, office wear suggesting IT or middle-management. I let him load the bags and beamed as he wheeled the cart to its designated return carrel.
Have a good day, Ma’am, he called out, walking towards his sturdy SUV. Thank you! I answered. He waved as he pulled out of his space. I’m not sure why he helped; good breeding, I suppose, or maybe I just looked pathetic. I’ll never know but it doesn’t matter.
I smiled all the way back to my house, and smiled even more broadly at the sight of my realtor waiting on the front walk. I stopped at the top of the driveway, intending to carry the bags to the porch before parking. But Alicia beat me to the back seat and took charge of my purchases, hefting them up the stairs with enviable ease.
Later, back in my rocker with a cup of Earl Grey at hand, I cast my eyes across the lawn and backward, to the flickering solar candles staged on little tables on the deck. I’ll miss this outdoor space, though eventually I will have one just as comfortable beside my tiny house wherever she lands. But here in East Brookside, one fine day in October, the porch therapy soothed what ailed me, and sent me softly into a long restful night.
It’s the twentieth day of the forty-sixth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.