It's only my first day on the job, and I've already learned something.
I've learned that I should write when the spirit strikes me, that I should follow the lead of what I am drawn to write about, and, most importantly, that I should write earlier. In other words, I'm wiped.
Earlier today--much earlier today--I sat down at my computer and I had more than one post ready to fly out of my fingertips. I contemplated whether I was in danger of burning myself out in this nablopomo thing if I post more than one entry a day. I worried about it. Needlessly. I wrote down titles (I'm not gonna share them because I might want to use them another day), I filled my time, I avoided even as I was motivated and full of words and thoughts. Now it is almost midnight, I am so sleepy I can barely keep my eyes open, and I am writing. I am writing because it is ridiculous to fail at this every day thing on the very first day. Y'know?
I won't be keeping you, so that's good. But before I go, there is one thing from today that bears writing. I have a feeling there is a lot more to be said about it than I can generate thus far, so it may rear its head again, but for now, it's enough to let it be said.
It's Sunday today. In honor of the day, I stopped at my favorite coffee and pastry place in the universe to get a chocolate croissant and a Dancing Goats Coffee. Yum. It was raining out, cold, starting to snow a little. When I pulled up, I realized that I had left my cash in my other pants at home, but man, I really wanted my fix. I dug through my bag, my jacket pockets, and my change bin (what some of you call an ashtray) in search of sufficient coins. Success! And then I noticed the most amazing thing.
Outside my car, on the sidewalk, in the snow, on a folding chair, sat a girl, about 9 or 10 years old. I watched her for the longest time through my rain streaked windshield, wondering who she was, why she was out there, whether I should ask her if she was okay. I wondered, I hypothesized. She looked a little miserable. Most of all, she looked really cold, hunched over in her blue jacket on her collapsible camping chair with her hands tucked inside the sleeves like a muff.
My first thought was that she was being punished in some form. That someone had put her out of a car--maybe that van parked in front of me--or a nearby apartment, and she was sitting outside in the snow, freezing. I felt sure that I ought to ask if she needed help.
My second thought was that she was a child of one of the homeless people who regularly hold signs at the intersection of Route 2 and 16, and she was sitting out here because as cold and wet as it was, it was better than being splashed with slush by cars speeding through the intersection. Merciful, in a way, but cruel nonetheless. I still felt sure that I should check on her, or at least ask her if I could buy her a hot chocolate in Quebrada.
My third thought is that I clearly have a flair for the dramatic. Or else I've seen too many movies. It also occurred to me that it might be a good idea to just get out of my car and see what she was doing there. I know, it was obvious to you. It was obvious to me too, it just took me a minute.
So I did get out. It was a good idea, mostly because I was able to view her from a different angle. From that angle, I could see that she was selling Sunday newspapers. They were stacked in a little alcove, out of the rain. Only one Boston Globe left, and a whole stack of NY Times.
Honestly, I was amazed. In a way, it's better than any of the movies I could have been channeling. Here I was, reflecting on the YouTube piece that I've been watching and appreciating the last few days, a clip from Conan O'Brien's show entitled "Everything is Amazing and Nobody's Happy". It's all about how entitled the younger generation is, about how people today don't realize how far we've come in such a short time, about the presumption of speed and technology. And here is a kid, sitting in a folding chair in the snow, selling newspapers. In Arlington, Massachusetts. Yeah, I'm surprised.
I managed to find enough change to buy a paper from her. I also offered a hot chocolate, but she politely declined. I got back in my car, out of the rain and snow and cold. And I took a photo, so that I would remember this moment. I am still reeling.