A man walks past me down the alley. He is neither short nor tall and wears his winter jacket open underneath there is a sweater. It is almost ninety degrees this All Hallows Eve. He is the man whose Mercedes was returned to his garage yesterday on the flatbed of a truck. This morning, I heard him exclaim loudly, "It will be almost one thousand dollars. But this is the least of my worries," in a slight Armenian accent. The building he recently moved into is Section 8 housing.
When he passes he does not smile, but he does not frown. Later, I will hear Vivaldi waft like flower petals from his window and I will turn my own music down to listen.
Next time we meet I will put my hand on his arm and smile in understanding. We must have sweet tea. Become good friends. This is the only richness that life cannot live without.
Over tea, I will tell him a story to cheer him up. It is the story of the day I drove my old Chevy Malibu up through the hills of fancy houses, remembering my former fancy house, my shiny car, my shiny life before the illnesses and sufferings of karmic effects. A new job as an assistant to a wealthy man awaited. When I climbed from my car, a neighbor, white-haired elegant, with a poodle, approached. "I wanted to ask you how much you charge," she said to me. Her blue eyes sparkled. She was a nice person. "Charge?" I asked, petting her dog's head. "To clean houses?"she asked. I recoiled as if slapped.
When I rang the bell, a housekeeper/nanny opened the door and smiled then turned to leave. My new boss descended the spiral staircase. "Can you believe your neighbor just asked how much I charge to clean houses?" I said, enraged, on the verge of tears. "Just because I drive a dented old old car."
He laughed and replied, "You know what's even worse? You said that in front of my cleaning lady."
Clearly, I still hung on. I had been a Merry Maid, and a receptionist, a cashier, a floral stop clerk, data entry for a gas station, Catholic school teacher's assistant, hell, I'd wrapped large ladies' thighs in ace bandages filled with "mystery" cellulite removal cream. I'd even turned forty in my parents' unfinished basement. But then, I had also been on television.
When I finish telling my good new friend this little tale of losing attachments, I will say with assurance, "Please don't worry. Life offers many opportunities to overcome our sufferings. We are all just travelers here on route to and from our
various missions.Our disguises matter little, the content of our hearts - all."