The start of what I hope to be an interesting and wholesome series on strangers I encounter or observe in the sundry spaces I inhabit.
To the young mom who shopped at my local grocery store when I worked there,
Thank you for always saving me a smile, for shopping on Wednesday afternoons because you knew that’s when I’d be working, for asking about my day and sharing a little bit of yours, for giggling with me over food packaging, for saying “thank you” and “I’m sorry,” for being patient when I couldn’t scan a barcode, for loving me on days when I struggled to love myself. I have never forgotten your kindness, and carry it with me everywhere.
To the hairstylist who chopped off my hair this August,
Thank you for laughing at my stupid jokes, for listening to my fears about my hair and encouraging me in this next step of embracing new things, for actually cutting less off than I asked just in case, for telling me about your life and your dreams, for our conversation about cities and suburbs and rural living, for making fun of high school, for wondering what might be in store. I wish I could remember your name.
To the Oxford barista who called me “friend” and said he hoped to see me again soon,
Thank you for chuckling with me over my inability to count change, for speaking to me as if I were a local and thus paying me the highest compliment, for bringing my coffee to me by the window, for ignoring the slight British drawl I’d picked up during my six weeks in the country. When I think about strangers I met in England, I remember you most often.
To every store clerk who does not question me when I buy yet another stuffed animal,
Thank you for, in your own quiet way, accepting that even women in their 20s (perhaps, especially women in their 20s) need the snuggles and listening ears of plush friends on cold and lonely October nights.