One Woman’s Comforts

Most people find comfort in the familiar.

Living in a small town you can’t go to the drug store, library, post office, restaurant, or grocery store without running into people you know and see every day and most times you can’t get away with a wave and a smile. In a grocery store with 8 or 9 tiny aisles this also means you can’t duck down the bread aisle and then to the check out unnoticed and even if you were somehow lucky enough to have maneuvered away from someone because they have run into someone else and are busy chatting with them, there is always the check out girl. You’re not avoiding them (unless you pull a runner and that’s not an option either because you are known to all the cops in town too). You know every single one of them. You know about their mother’s knee operation and what’s worse, they know all about you too. They ask after your family members or ask about something they’ve heard about you. I am not one of the many that find this comforting. I’m one of the few who find it more than a little…invasive.

I’d like to go to the store and not know anyone.

My visit to NY a couple of months ago was rejuvenating and relaxing for me for just that reason I think. It was comforting to walk out of my door on 14th street and like slipping into a warm bath, join in the flow of humanity. I’d run down the subway steps, pass through the turnstile and not meet anyones eyes. So much to look at and think about without having to talk to anyone about anything. That’s home to me. That makes me feel more a part of things than running into a neighbor at the grocery store and chatting about the weather or his trip to the doctor. Being forced to be sociable is work for me. Sometimes I enjoy it but I have to be mentally prepared for it and at least have clean clothes and lipstick on.

My comfort in the familiar takes a more finical form. I like my homemade granola and soy milk for breakfast every single day in my black and white bowl along with the Dishwasher’s coffee, which is strong enough to curl all my little hairs. I have to have it. I have to watch All My Children on weekdays. I have to do my Sudoku everyday. Something is off if I don’t see Lu’s face smushed up in her bed every morning. Like some obsessive compulsive person who has to wash their hands fifty times or checks the locks over and over again before going to bed, I need something on my knitting needles to sit and watch All My Children.

Every few years though, a deracination occurs. I’ll stop the granola and soy milk and then it’ll be migas for breakfast every day for the next 5.3 years. I’ll quit watching All My Children and after 3 years when I turn it on again at 1 pm eastern time, 12 pm western all the same actors will still be there, looking younger in a stiff pulled up sort of way, still reciting the same lines with an almost straight face. I’ll quit knitting and take up pottery and fill the house with little doll sculptures.

And that’s how I wound up in this small town in the first place. Some days I wake up and think something and my whole life changes and I settle into whatever the different thing is and there I roost until…. .

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