Friday, January 7, 2011

A Chance Encounter

It was an encounter that lasted five, maybe ten seconds max.  I was walking through the grocery store.  It was "one of those days."  I had been spit up on and wiped more butts than I would like to count.  I hadn't gotten a shower and now I was wrangling three boys at dinner time through the grocery store to get milk.  Why oh why must they put the milk in the back of the store?!

Like I said, the encounter was maybe ten seconds max but I think it hit us both like a ton of bricks.  She was walking toward me.  She had brown hair to her mid back.  She was think and pretty.  Her make-up looked amazing and she was wearing a fabulous skirt and sweater...maybe from Banana Republic...finished off with a great pair of heals.  She was in her early to mid 20s.  Our eyes met.  I looked at her and thought, "I used to be her!"  Truly.  It was like seeing myself ten years ago.  Confident and pulled together running through the market to grab one last ingredient for dinner after a day at the office, heals clicking on the supermarket floor as the cool lining of my skirt brushed against my fat-free thighs.  I was her.

And as our eyes met, I swear I saw a look of pity and then terror sweep her face.  I think she saw in me that we looked very similar--same build, hair, complexion, height--except for one major thing: I looked like I'd been run through the mill.  The boys were being outrageous.  The baby was whining...on the verge of a meltdown.  I was playing interference trying to make sure Fruit Loops didn't find their way into the cart and breaking up the game of who-can-hit-who-first.  As I read the look on her face she instantly pitied me, as it didn't take a psychology degree to figure out I was at my breaking point.  But then, I swear the look turned to terror...or at least fear.  Fear of becoming me in some crazy parallel universe.  I meekly smiled and she looked away.

I didn't see her again in the market but the brief encounter allowed me to reflect on how life changes without even knowing it.  I used to be that woman in the business clothes and clicking heals and in what feels like the blink of an eye, I am mommy.  And while it would be easy to mourn who I was in my 20s, I'm finding strength in the idea of how I will be reinvented in the next ten years.  Ten years from now, my oldest son will be 15 and I'm sure we will walk through the grocery store at dinner time to pick up the last minute essentials--only without tantrums and pleas for Fruit Loops and who-can-hit-who-first contests.  And I'm sure from time to time we'll run into mommies with little ones who are all haggard from the day's events and unknowing of the baby spit crusted in their hair.  I will see me in them and give them a smile and a nod and a "keep your chin up."

From that brief ten second encounter I have been reminded to embrace my current self, appreciate the past, and look forward to the future.  A lot can change in ten years.  I look forward to seeing where life takes me.


Renata said...

Made me smile. Perspective, for sure.

Marcy - The Glamorous Life! said...

This is a brilliant post.

kiwibyrd said...

Loved this post! I have felt the same way.
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