And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.
Boy, does that traditional opening line resonate today. Despite the news. It’s very, very hard to write about a Moment on the day after a school massacre, leaving 17 dead. All the Moments I’ve been sifting through, choosing between, suddenly seem trite and simplistic, next to the enormity of this newest tragedy.
But they aren’t, and I know this, even as I struggle to write it. One of the things I learned in the year of writing Today’s Moment every single day is that it’s sometimes the little things that give us something to hold on to. You know those rock-climbing walls? Those tall, sheer structures you struggle up handhold by foothold, and the whole goal is to get to the top? I’d never be caught dead on one of those, but when you look at them, it’s the handholds that make a difference. One grip at a time, you make it to the top.
So. This is my grip for the week. A handhold.
Last weekend, Michael and I traveled to Wausau, Wisconsin. The trip was Michael’s birthday present: tickets to a live performance of a radio drama by Wisconsin Public Radio, a stay in a nice hotel, and a chance to see a town in Wisconsin he’d never visited before. The hotel was indeed lovely, and on the first floor, it housed several small shops. I had a little time before the radio show, so I wandered through to see what was there. And I found a consignment shop.
You put me before a store that sells used ANYTHING, and I’m a happy camper. Goodwill, Salvation Army, St. Vincent De Paul, flea markets, antique malls, consignment shops…happy, happy, happy. For me, it’s not just about finding a treasure that is also a bargain. It’s about saving an orphan. I always see these items as being abandoned, and so I give them a new home. My condo is filled with orphans.
I only had a few minutes, but in that time, I found a great pair of earrings. I bought them and told the owner I’d be back the next day. Which I was.
As Michael and I walked in on Saturday, there, front and center, was a woman looking at herself in a mirror. She was in a gorgeous floor-length dress, bronze, beaded and glittered. It was form-fitting and it followed every curve on this woman the way a river follows its bends. She stood there in that classic “I am Woman!” pose, one hand on a cocked hip, the other draped oh so casually on her thigh. She was beautiful. But her face…her face wasn’t sure. Her mouth was scrooched to one side and she frowned. Her body showed confidence; her face showed excruciating doubt.
Without even thinking about it, I cried out, “You look stunning!”
She startled, then turned to me, that doubt-face in full bloom. “Really?” she said.
“Ohmygod,” I said. “Whoever made that dress was thinking of you. Look at you! It’s beautiful!”
There is no other word for it. She BEAMED.
“Thank you,” she said, and then she turned to the shop owner. “Sold!”
When we walked out of the store later, Michael said to me, “That was a nice thing you did.”
“Telling that woman how great she looked. She just lit up. Did you see her light up?”
Well, then it was my turn to beam. I’ve been thinking about this all week.
I’ve been reading many articles and stories and such lately about how we should tell our daughters that they’re smart instead of beautiful. It’s the “instead of” that bothers me. I tell my daughters they’re smart. They are. I tell them they’re beautiful. They are. For that matter, I tell my sons the same thing.
There are times that we just want to be beautiful. To ourselves. And to the world. Every creature in Nature preens. So do we. So glory in it. Beam.
I hope that the woman in the consignment shop wears that dress often. And I hope her face is never scrooched in doubt again. I hope every time she wears that dress, she hears my voice saying, “You look stunning!” And I hope she hears her voice saying it too.
And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.