A quiet afternoon in the California Delta

I asked myself a hundred times why putting something —  even a three-foot tall air cooler — back into its original box could possibly defy every blessed effort.  After an hour, I finally texted my neighbor Macrina.  She had the whole reboxing done and the unit in the back of my car within three minutes.  I tried not to feel inadequate as I thanked her and got ready to drive into Lodi.

The little gaggle of customers at the UPS store stood in a vague line staring at the red-headed clerk and a flustered woman with chalk on the back of her pants.  I occupied the enviable position of next to be helped, but the boy kept shuffling between a computer to one side and the counter, earnestly conversing with the lady as her hair drifted from a loose ponytail.  I contemplated the two-wheeler standing by the back wall, figuring  the odds of my navigating the box from my car without costing myself a two-hundred dollar refund.

Two more customers swung through the door, stopping cold at the sight of us.  I grew increasingly concerned about asking the store employee for help with six other people waiting and him clearly alone.  I turned and announced that I needed to get a large box inside, and wondered if anyone might assist.  The guy behind me, big, burly, with a small package balanced on his foot, looked down and over at something fascinating just beneath the parcel.

“I’d be glad to help,” I heard, and sought the face of the volunteer.  A pudgy man, who looked as though he might be only slightly more capable than I am, grinned at me.  Out at the car, he hoisted my package  onto his shoulder.  I recalculated my opinion of him as I dashed over to the entrance just as the lady who had been in front of me emerged.

A few minutes later, I headed towards the drugstore, grateful for the absolute ease of the return process.  I tucked the receipt into my glove compartment at a red light, turned east, and starting looking for the CVS.  As I drove, I had a sickening recollection of my new ATM card sitting on the desk in my writing loft.  I shook my head.  Up, down; good, bad; easy, hard.  I did not have the energy to go into the bank to make my deposit.  It would have to wait for the next trip into town.

I caught sight of my eyes in the rear view mirror as I parked.  My head fell forward onto the steering wheel.  I sat completely still for the span of three long breaths.  It’s going to be all right, I whispered.  Everything is going to be all right.  I resisted the temptation to recite a litany of those items as to which the outcome remained hauntingly uncertain.

On the way back to the island, I made an illegal turn into a Starbucks drive-through.  Sometimes I just need a tall Americano.  I nursed the drink over both bridges and onto the levy road.  I turned Neko Case louder as I made my way between the shimmering river and the wide stretches of summer cropland.

It’s the second day of the fifty-fifth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.


2 thoughts on “A quiet afternoon in the California Delta

  1. Linda Overton

    I’ve had several of those days this year. Frank, my husband of 42 years, died in February. My best friend here died in June, and my new roommate died last Sunday. It has been a rough year so far, but I’m still here and reading your blog is helping my lift my sad spirit … keep up the good work.


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