“Hi, how are you,” I say, without meaning it…

…What I mean is, “Please accept my acknowledgement of your existence and let me be on my way,” which is what everyone means when they say, “hi, how are you” to an acquaintance.

She answers.  “Fine.”  Or “hot.”  I’m not sure which, not that it matters.  We’re all hot.  Even with the cooler temperatures – highs in the high 80s to low 90s, rather than the high 90s to 100+ – we’re all still fighting off the stifling humidity.

I transfer everything from the shopping cart to the minivan, stopping briefly to realize I have a horrible headache.  As I turn around to return the shopping cart, an elderly gentleman appears, wearing a name tag and gathering carts.  I give him my cart, thank him, and am saddened at the thought of so many senior citizens working for a huge retail giant, greeting customers at the door, scanning an endless array of bar codes and collecting shopping carts.

I fasten my seat belt and look up in time to see an elderly woman pushing her cart to her car.  Knowing I am already running behind and will be late to work, I hesitate a moment before I unfasten my seat belt and get out of the car.  I go to her and offer to help her unload her shopping cart, but she declines, and I know why.  She’s fiercely independent, taking pride in her self-sufficiency.  As I turn to leave, I secretly hope that when I’m her age – her great-grandchildren go to school with my children – I’ll be as spunky and spirited as she.

Driving down the main street, I fight back tears when I see his work truck at the Mexican restaurant.  He had invited me to lunch, but I had errands to run, things to do, mundane matters to mind.  If I don’t take care of things, who will?  No one, that’s who.  And suddenly I am completely overwhelmed again, lost in the lists of things to do, drowning in the details.

A quick stop at the grocery store finds me jockeying with a senior citizen for a view of the grocery shelf.  My “excuse me” sounds surprisingly flat, and I worry I’ve hurt her feelings, this woman I don’t even know, this woman who is someone’s wife, mother, grandmother.  And I fight back tears, realizing how ridiculous I would look, crying in the grocery store, birthday cake decorations in one hand and a tub of Country Crock in the other.

Driving home, my thoughts are flooded with to-do lists and schedules.  I turn off the music; the noise in my head is more than I can bear.  I acknowledge the headache again, briefly rubbing my neck with my left hand, trying in vain to relieve the pressure.  The pain in my gut returns, and I find myself hoping premenstrual cramps are to blame.  PMS is so much more welcome than that old, familiar darkness.


12 Responses to “Hi, how are you,” I say, without meaning it…

  1. Please keep your eye on it. I think it’s creeping up on you.

    Promise me that for every sad thought you think, that you’ll try to counter it with a happy one.

  2. kalki says:

    This is beautifully written, LB. And I love you and I’m here.

    (Camille the camel sends kisses.)

  3. Di says:

    I’ll be thinking about you. ((hug))

  4. Squirl says:

    Sending great big hugs to you. I hope you’re feeling better.

  5. kerrianne says:

    Hi! Long time no see! Well, you know, sort of. : ) But I just wanted to say “hello!” and also: love the new(ish?) look. : )

  6. psumommy says:

    Many, many hugs…I know my hubs was ‘off’ for quite a while after he went off one of the meds he tried. Your body might still be trying to find its happy place. I know you said you weren’t yourself on your meds- perhaps they were simply the wrong ones? Such a long, difficult road.

    And now I must go, as my eldest is sucked into Toy Story, my youngest is sleeping happily and my middle child is engrossed in eating cereal off of the floor, so I think I might have 5 minutes to get a shower. (Saying this to hopefully get you to giggle a little…)

  7. Danielle says:

    Oh dear. As I was reading this, I was thinking that it sounded like your depression was back. And then when I got to the end, I see you realize the same possibility.


    Keep an eye on it – and if you go for too many days feeling like this, be sure to see your doctor again.

    Maybe this time, they can find a medicine that makes you feel like yourself – instead of unlike yourself.

    On a side note – why is it sad that so many senior citizens work at retailers? Isn’t it a good thing that they can be active and make some extra money in their retirement years? I know my Dad has always said that when he retires, he still wants to have a part-time job to help him keep busy. So, I guess I don’t see it as a sad thing, but as a positive thing instead – i.e. they still have their health and Can work, instead of being laid up at home.

  8. Dawn says:

    I hope for PMS for you. Please, PMS, please! (that’s not something you hear too often, huh?)

    Hugs to you.

  9. sheryl says:

    Stay with yourself, stay present during this time. This is wonderfully written, but I’d much rather see you happy and busy (and barely blogging) than see you in a darker place.

    Let’s hold hands just to make sure. That seems to be the theme of the day (holding hands).

    P.S. Kalki named her cameltoe Camille?!?

    P.P.S. Of course I KNOW she didn’t! Kalki please forgive me. Just trying to get ladybug to giggle!

  10. kalki says:

    Sheryl! For SHAME!!!


    Hugging you on this dreary Monday, LadyBug.

  11. Closet Metro says:

    Your writing had “Elderly woman behind the counter in a small town” in my head, but Sheryl’s comment completely dislodged that song and replaced it with a Prince tune about a woman named Camille who won’t wear clothes.

  12. CircusKelli says:

    Oh sweetie… I’ve been there, so many times… it’s just a bad day. It will get better. It will. And… if it doesn’t, you know what to do.

    Hugs to you!

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