Doris

I’m incontrovertibly happy, which–disclaimer–is not a FaceBook trope or anything. I just am, and my inner misanthrope has his arms crossed and hates me at present.

There’s sour-grass, iceplant, and aloe blooming at once. Let’s blame it on that. The misanthrope can take a break for a while.

I pull into Rady’s for Finn’s weekly Speech and say hello to the parking lot attendant, Doris (I called her Mae in an earlier post; I was lying—it’s Doris). If ever I had to choose a Higher Power, it would be her. She’s maybe sixty, sixty-five. Small in stature, she’s an African-American woman with spider-woven cheekbones and an unwavering smile. Whether rain or sun, she invariably wears an over-sized windbreaker and a straw hat cinched by means of a drawstring beneath her chin.

“Hi, Honey. Good to see you.” She always pokes her head through the window and waves to Finn.

“Hi, Baby. Hi!” Her smile is the warmest.

(Often I wonder if people remember me in the same fashion I remember them, and: do we, would we, recognize each other upon meeting for the third, fourth time? I always think I’m somehow forgettable. Doris remembers me, I remember Doris. It’s obvious every time we see each other).

I take the ticket—I should step outside the door and give Doris a hug–but I park my car instead.

This morning:

“Do I seem better?”

Jenn puts a knife down on the cutting board and nods her head.

We’re both smiling. I say, ‘Ok.’

Doris says: “Always good to see you, Dear.” These days, I believe her. And I like being called ‘Dear’ and ‘Honey’ by someone I don’t exactly know, especially when it’s spring and there’s no flowers sprouting the asphalt outside the parking lot booth.

Speaking of: I get this parking stub every session. A crossbeam rises, I park. Some bored receptionist asks if I or anyone I’ve known has been to Africa or Central Asia recently.

“No. And no.”

My ticket gets validated meaning I’ve somehow been granted free time. ‘Free’ time, as if it’s a commodity. Do you ever wonder why it is you get charged for taking up time and space?

Doris’ shift is done by twelve and I often see her climb into her Corolla for the ride home. I pay the new girl three dollars, and I’m allowed out. The crossbeam lifts, Finn falls asleep, I return home.

I always wave to Doris, but she never sees me. We leave, and apart.

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