The Gully

  • Reading time:3 mins read

The what-seem-to-be period symptoms were ebbing today, so I figured, fine; might as well get some more groceries before the plague gets groovy and it will be unsafe to go out at all again. Took a larger than usual tote bag with me; one I hadn’t employed before. As usual there were no fucking baskets, so I threw the food directly in my bag, to procedurally unload at the scanner and more sensibly repack.

As it happens, about ten feet from the self-checkout, the bag exploded. Handle came right off, pulled the stitching right off like a zip cord I had to ask the lady there (luckily not the one who has acted… oddly to me) for a couple paper bags. Problem was, the bags here are really thin—and they have no handles. They’re not made for actually carrying. Still, I scooped them up and did my best.

It was a mile’s walk, with two heavy bags—lots of jars and fluid cartons, right, and no reasonable way to carry them beyond cradling them in the crooks of my arms, adjusting every few seconds as they continually slipped from my grasp. Hips were of little use; I was busy walking, and the bags were thin and irregular. I was terrified of tearing.

I got maybe a third of the way, and had to take a breather. Luckily my neighborhood is well-stooped, so from there I could rest every block or so, wipe away the sweat, try to get some feeling back into my deadened arms. No schedule; as long as I made it back, I was fine.

Way up often here on my street, I happen by this lady, out to garden at concrete or lug about great sacks with her gray hair and her elbows. Today she was down sweeping a concrete gully against the apartments—off and below the front steps where I panted and groaned. She tried gently to shoo me, till she learned I was resting. From there we moved to light patter—she aiming to keep her distance and most of her business, but with a certain ease.

It was nothing much, really; just me and this old lady, in social-distance nicety while she cleaned up a planter disaster. I couldn’t have been more than three, four minutes to gather myself. but it was nice. She was sweet. Distant, busy, yet compassionate. Just a little moment of human connection, you know, in all of this. I don’t get that often.

With my front door at my back, I just fucking crashed. I barely had it in me to put away the freezer and fridge things. Even now after a short nap I can barely lift my arms; it’s awful. I keep feeling tears streaming down my cheeks, from the sheer effort of moving—but that journey, and that respite, sort of confirmed my resolve to do something once we’re out of this whole nightmare. I want to make more contact. There are a lot of kind, sincere people out there, if you wait and listen for them and allow yourself to be a little vulnerable.

Sometimes all you need to do is share a stoop.