|Nice skirt, bad day.|
People toss around the phrase, "I was in a daze" to mean a bit disoriented. I was far worse. Still, familiarity and behaviours you've done a million times over are reassuring in chaos (just as we practise fire drills to stay calm in real emergencies), so I browsed without really looking. Thrift shopping tends to be a solitary activity, unless you've brought someone with you. There's the unspoken etiquette that it is in fact, unspoken-like silent staring at your shoes in a lift. I picked up the skirt, and heard a cheerful voice asking me where I was from as she could tell I wasn't a local.
In hindsight, I think she was perceptive and knew I needed a motherly hand on my shoulder even as she was a good 30 years younger than myself. She had several children with her looking through toys, clothes and the like. Without asking me what was going on, she managed to get me to answer a few questions and engage. We never did discuss my still very fresh traumatic shock, but instead chatted about where we lived, what our husbands did for work, children, good places to thrift, etc. Maybe 10 minutes passed before her kids had enough, and she needed to pay for her purchases. We met up again outside the shop, chatted a bit longer, and she left me with such a kind, warm, positive feeling about humanity that I was (temporarily) able to pull myself together. I'm still working on it for the long term, but I'm getting there.
It was a terrible day, but I didn't think about that when I put on the skirt for a first wear. I thought of the lovely woman whose name I'll never know that gave me a much appreciated rescue. If anything, the skirt is a reminder that we haven't completely given in to our worst tendencies and decent human beings are out there even if they're a bit scarce. I'm also reminded that resistance sometimes comes in subtle forms. Behaving kindly in a world that rewards cruelty, revels in cruelty, takes as much determination as marching in the streets. I fear it is all we have left. Undermining the pervasive awfulness is a tall order, but we must start somewhere. I don't have a crystal ball into the future, and I won't pretend to have an optimistic personality, but I do have the perspective of having been alive more than half a century and having seen some very positive progress even when it seems darkest. As the stockbrokers say, "Past performance isn't a guarantee" but still.
I'll return to regular outfit posts shortly.