You used to sit next to me. I talked to you. (I didn’t know you). You stood next to me. We queued together. (I asked you about your family). We complained to each other about the fare. We talked all the way to town. Sometimes even about the weather.
We drank coffee together. “One lump or two?” we asked laughing all the while. I saved a place for you – or us. You saved a place for me – or us. We saved a place for each other. I remember you told me about your piano lessons. I told you of my schooldays. We talked together. I didn’t even know in which department you worked. I wonder if you knew in which one I was? We made the day go quickly.
You used to talk to me. I saw you on the opposite pavement. We waved to each other. I crossed over to talk to you. You came across to talk to me. We laughed. Sometimes we told each other stories. We walked to Evensong. Sometimes we were the only ones there.
And once I helped you home with your grocery. I carried your washing powder.
I also helped you with your apples. I swept up your leaves in autumn. I swept the gutter for you the better to make the water flow away.
I sat with you in the thunder. I held your umbrella in the rain. I played for you to sing. I made you laugh. You heard my words. Sometimes they made you smile.
And you, you made me tea; gave me fat cake; showed me how to skin tomatoes; cooked for me; talked to me; told me stories; helped me to pass time; helped me to interpret. You showed me things; told me about difficulty; told me about living; told me about ostracism; shared with me what indifference was; you walked with me; you were friendly; you were companionable; you were kind.
And not once; not once ever; never; either for you or for me; did it ever matter what possessions we had; what we looked like; what we liked; what we were; how we dressed; how we smelt; how we thought; what we believed…
We felt no embarrassment in each other’s company; we delighted in our exchanges. All of us.
Judgement might come (and so yet it might) but that was never in the present, neither in the past present; nor in the future present.
So my question is this: Why the judgement now? and Why based on the rightness of shoes; perfume; clothes; embroidered labels; cars; class; accent; address; situation; job; subject; perceived power; money; ability to withstand crushing blows?
Thus suspect anything that suggests a bought solution to unhappiness. Even holidays. And yes, Mark Twain got that one wrong.
So if you have only one jacket, then wear your one jacket and be warm. But I will still talk to you. If you have only one pair of shoes, then I hope your one pair of shoes remains stout on your feet. If you have no soap, I will give you some of mine. But even if there is no soap you can still wash in plain water. If you have to eat alone, then eat happily. If you have to care for yourself, then care for yourself and respect yourself as best you can. Let others (who need to have) remain the payers. You remain as you are and were, as beautiful as you were. And you remain beautiful as you are.
Acceptance of you by me and me by you is the biggest step. Period.
Let us talk together again as we sit, walk, eat; let us listen together as we hear, think, observe; let us share the light of the present and shield one another from the cold and dark, glaring sun and unbearable storm.
And so begins the next day.
And the next.
And the next.