That Sunday morning I got up, did the breakfast thing then strapped on my fanny pack with my standard fanny pack thought: I wish I was cool enough not to care I’m wearing a fanny pack or cool enough to carry it off with the irony that would make it cool. I’m not either.
To fill out the rest of the picture because it factors in, I’ve got the walking sneakers on and am wearing the same shorts and tank I wore to bed, so convenient for getting right to the morning exercise. A visor finishes me off.
Two blocks from downtown Bangor is where I get my hand on my pepper spray if I see anyone marginal-seeming milling about. This is the Ghettobetter block, Ghettobetter’s being an all-night convenience and redemption center establishment with the actual and politically correct name of Ledbetter’s (I guess polictically correct though frankly I have no idea what is and isn’t politically correct anymore).
There is a guy just a bit down the block heading my way but he looks decent, well-dressed even by the look of his khakis and button down. I feel good about him in general so now it’s just a matter of do we make eye contact and say good jolly morning or do we invoke the invisible wall agreement and pass on by. It seems it’s an invisible wall morning, which I respect, but at the last minute he does a double-take just as we are about to cross paths and looks at me with shock and betrayal and shouts accusatorily, “You’re no princess!”
I scramble to catch up, giving him that “What?” look, when he follows up with “In fact, you’re not remotely close to being a princess!” Now he’s looking at me with sheer contempt tinged with true befuddlement.
Stunned, I say exactly nothing and hurry on by, realizing that my dominant feeling, absurdly, is defensiveness. I haven’t even had a shower! I’m not wearing make-up and I’ve only got a fanny pack on for strictly practical reasons! This is so fucking not fair. Just give me a chance!
I spend the rest of my five-mile walk in mental conversation with him, saying witty things like,
“Oh, were you expecting one?”
“Oh, do you think you’re a prince? A prince from the Country of Crazy?”
Responding is such a problem. In fact, responding is really The Major Problem. How are we supposed to respond to everything coming at us?
Back in my other life, before my wellness life when I was in charge of marketing and public relations for a community college, I got called out on something during one of our senior leader meetings. While truth is complicated, I was getting called out on something that was probably pretty much true. I listened to the criticism with a stony face then said in a tight, clippy kind of way, “I don’t know what I’m supposed to say to that.”
Ron, the academic dean, the sweet academic dean, looked at me with such kind, warm eyes and said, “Just say ‘thank you.’”
I was stunned by the simple truth of this. Yes. That’s right. I didn’t make the best call in this situation. Thank you. Thank you for letting me know.
And thank you, crazy man. It’s the “not remotely close” part that really hurt, but it’s good to know these things. You’re right. I’m not a princess. So thank you for putting me in touch with the truth. I’m just a soul walking.
The stories in this blog are excerpts from my memoir, The Organization Project. While they are true to me and reflect how I see, I acknowledge there are multiple truths, including my own which change over time, even as the events themselves remain the same. What I make of an event 5 years out may not be what I make of it 10 years out.
First, after walking the hills in SF, while caring for my granddaughter, without pepper spray, I am amused you carry it in Bangor.
Second, I am further quite amused at your thought-responses.
Third, I am truly glad to be receiving your blogs!
Last, please know your kind note after loosing Nate meant a lot. I have saved it. Miss you my good friend. Heartfelt thanks.💕
Nancy! Thank you so much for reading! I love your point-by-point commentary, I’m delighted that you’re amused — quite amused, I keep coming back around to the quite — and I’m so glad to hear from you. Years may go by but you are always planted in my head and heart. I hope you are doing okay after losing Nate, I’m betting you’re loving being a grandmother and I think you are badass to walk the streets of SF or anywhere else without the illusion of protection that 10 year old pepper spray gives me.