Recently a friend posted on social media that she should probably take down the Mother's Day cards that were still on the fireplace mantle. I chuckled until a few days later I glanced at my own fireplace mantle to see that my Mother's Day cards were still there. It was September.
It reminded me of the day I found myself smiling at the tiny old lady across from me on the city bus whose feet did not reach the floor. Then I looked down at my own feet swinging casually above the ground like I was a toddler in a highchair.
Humbling experiences are good for us. I think. I held onto this thought earlier in the fall when I realized I had not switched out the winter gear for summer stuff by our front door. Hats, gloves, scarves etc. sat there through the heat of July and August. No one else in the house seemed to notice. I don't live alone. The good thing of course is now I don't have to switch them out again. Hurray for mayhem and household chaos!
I've been spending more time on the bus lately, for the most part in my small, tidy city, an innocuous experience, Last week a young woman got on the bus with a large, stuffed-to-the-brim backpack, a rain jacket, long black leggings with fuzzy colourful socks pulled up over her ankles, topped off with hiking boots.
People that was me in the 90s. I don't know what it was like in the rest of the world, but on the west coast of Canada in the early 90s black leggings, big socks and boots were all the rage. Throw in a flannel plaid shirt and you were golden. At that time I worked for a science organization teaching environment and energy education in schools. One day at the end of an energy program when the room was littered with turbines, lightbulbs and colourful props, in the midst of more pertinent questions, one young boy switched gears and asked "Do you all wear big boots because you work with wires?"
The other two facilitators and I looked down at the end of our black clad legs. Indeed we all were wearing army boots or Doc Martins. The kid had made an astute observation. We should have said we were victims of fashion, but we smiled and mumbled something clever to cover our surprise at the uniformity.
I took that rough and rugged lumberjack look with me and two friends all the way to Europe. There we represented Canada in numerous countries, always with overstuffed backpacks, black leggings, gortex rain jackets, and while travelling, we mixed it up with hiking boots.
In elegant Italy, balmy Greece, stylish France, lovely Switzerland, Germany and Austria, we tromped into cafés, restaurants, hostels and inns and sometimes peoples' homes, with this bulky backpacking look.
In England we were invited to a slightly posh engagement party of the cousin of one of my travelling companions. They insisted we leave our hiking boots on and not leave them at the door, which of course we wanted to do because we'd had them on all day. They were heavy and everyone else at the party had dainty, urban shoes. It's not easy to carefully cross a fancy English living room to shake hands with someone when you're wearing purple Merrell hiking boots. It wears on one's confidence.
It was at this party where one of the attendants looked us up and down (how foreign we must have seemed) and said in her upper middle class accent, "you girls really are marvellous aren't you with your gortex and your hiking boots?" Yes we were marvellous.
I wanted to tell that young woman on the bus last week that she was marvellous too, but there was no way to do that and make sure she knew I had done it first. My legs were swinging above the bus floor and my shoes were closer to dainty than rugged. She wouldn't have believed me.