Monday, February 9, 2009

Well Done

The day was strange…I was strange. I still held onto the anger from last night. A little bubble that I could not burst. A vague layer of gauze, the almost transparent film of sadness cloaked my inner fibers. I could see through it, a small part of me knew that the sun was shining and I was breathing and my love was strong, but another part of me held onto the small bubble of insecurity and sadness and a little gray cloud lingered over me.
A steady stream of passersby smiled at me as we made eye contact. I sat behind my small booth of incense and soap and sachets. Maybe the fragrance of the forest brought out their smiles. I looked at my cell phone for the time, it was almost 2pm and I still had not eaten, I left the stand unattended, grabbing my phone and tucking it in my back pocket and headed to the Thai food vendor for a couple of vegetarian egg rolls. When I reached the head of the small line, I realized they had sold out, so I ate a small bowl of rice with peanut sauce, and for the first time in my two years of working the farmer’s market, I bought a Thai iced tea. I took a long sip from the straw, the sweet milk and tangy black tea felt wonderful in my mouth, delicious sliding down my throat. I walked through the crowded market, sipping on the tea more slowly now and I let myself be distracted by the many people around me and the colorful vegetables that lined both sides of the street.
Back at my stand, I saw a couple patient customers waiting for me. I put the tea down and started offering samples and making change and offering smiles. But something was different. There had been an internal shift. My voice was louder, my eyes were a bit wider and when I talked, I moved closer to the customers, leaning in on the table that separated us and moving into their space. With this new internal state, I talked without fear or hesitation. Usually, I would sit on the back fender of my truck and try to play the salesman part smoothly, acting as if I didn’t care whether they bought or not, but always hoping they would. In the current state, I talked, and gave suggestions, but I truly did not care if they bought something or walked away. I had become less identified with the result. I knew that I was different, I knew the black tea had brought it on and as it passed through me like a series of waves, I started to feel just a little out of control, like I was swinging my body wildly to an invisible symphony, spinning and spinning and my arms were out and my head was swaying…but I might just hit a wall at any second.
Just then, an old customer who had become a friend came up to me. As we talked, we were interrupted constantly by curious customers who stopped to pick up Douglas fir sachets and tried to smell the packets of incense through the cardboard boxes before I offered them the open packages. I noticed the difference, the more Steven and I talked, the more people came up to the tables and attempted to interact with the scented products, the heat of our linguistic exchange got the atoms bouncing, bringing moths to the flame.
"wow, you’re doing great business!"
"it’s because of you, I was sitting like this all day," and I imitated myself sitting on the car’s fender, watching the crowds pass.
He laughed.
"well, good, I’ll stay."
Another person walked up and I offered a smile and a "hello." The girl smiled as she smelled the soap and I launched into some facts about the soap. She nodded and we fell silent and I looked at Steven, "wow, I’ve only had a couple of sips of the Thai iced tea and I’m all messed up!" I looked at him with wide eyes.
"well, you’re a dancer, things come into you and you’re really sensitive to them and you react."
"yeah, but just a couple of sips!"
"you’re sensitive," he said with a shy smile.
I looked at the red cell phone on the table. "I guess I should start cleaning up, the market is almost over." I turned behind me to the open truck bed and I looked at the long inventory list on the clipboard and my pen that was sitting beside it. I surveyed the contents of my truck bed. There were open cardboard boxes and big empty plastic bags and plastic storage boxes. I looked over my shoulder at the display table, there were baskets of sachets and a rack of incense and soaps and teas and smudge sticks.
My heart started beating, the tea had tapped into my stream. I looked around, slightly disoriented, unsure where to start, how to begin. It was a process I did every Saturday…empty the contents of the car onto a retail friendly table, and then pack it all back up at the end of the day and drive off to the warehouse. But today, the task seemed huge. I felt faint wisps of panic, I heard the silent explosions in my bloodstream.
Then I stopped. Steven had been talking and I had been half listening to him, but he stopped for a minute. I held steady for a moment. I reached out extremely slowly for the black pen, I bent over very, very slowly to write the date on the inventory list, then I put the pen down very, very slowly. I stood up straight, very slowly and looked at Steven, a calm smile on my face.
"well done," he said.
I smiled and said nothing more. He began to talk a little bit and I listened while packing things away. I took no more sips of the tea.

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