What I know and don’t know

There is a rumor out there that it never sunshines in the Pacific Northwest. It is true in Olympia, Washington. But elsewhere, well, I’ll never tell the truth about that.  Today there was a surprising deluge though.  It was in fact magnificent.  It defied all my attempts at appropriate attire.  The boots were in the closet and as I got into the car, the crossing of the parking lot left even the bottoms of my pantlegs drenched, so deep were the puddles.

Rather than being grouchy, which it occurred to me would be a normal response, I felt amazed at this opening of the sky.  I had to use the high speed of windshield wipers.  I drove carefully home and smirked a little at our liquid sunshine.

Why am I so happy?  I thought.

Because I am going to go home and spend the afternoon with my kiddo.  I answered myself.  And that will be wonderful.  Even if it isn’t wonderful, even if things go awry, it is still the best of any option in the world.

So the day went.  Lunch was eaten together, cookies were made, snuggles happened and dinner and ballet.

Because I like to eat chocolate liberally, I have to exercise.  It doesn’t work that much, but I persevere.

The winter is the only time that I really love our local YMCA.  Because it appears that most of the people there love chocolate as much as I do, and it’s like the bar at Cheers:  everyone knows my name.

It is the only place I have been to like that.  It’s funny.

I speak to the janitor every time I go (because I only go at night when they are cleaning up).  He stops what he is doing, and we talk.  Sometimes in Spanish, sometimes in English, which is lovely.  He has an easy smile and a sort of Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz face.  He is usually tired (he works about 12 to 16 hours a day, has 3 jobs) but always is so polite.  Sometimes he seems sad, but he is still smiling.

Tonight, he looked so tired.  He told me he was working outside all day.  Then I remembered the deluge.

“Oh, friend, I am sorry.”

I know the ages of his 3 kids, where his older goes to school, I know his jobs, but I don’t know his name (which is wrong, I now realize, though I am not sure he knows mine).

I spoke to my friend of meaningless things.  The other janitor (a newer guy) looked at his phone and panicked said “Oh no…” and ran to get his jacket.  He showed my janitor friend the text he had just received and then ran out the door with his jacket only half way on, running to his car and taking off speedily.

The whole way home I listened about Eric Gardner.  A woman used words like “the last couple summers soaked in blood,” “inevitable civil rights movement,”  and “every 28 days a black man is killed by a vigilante,”  Maybe it was my friendly janitor guy running.  His panic.  I felt helpless as I saw him running out of work.  More helpless hearing about Eric Gardner, and continuing reports of Ferguson, Missouri.  I realized my running janitor was also black.

What I don’t know is about the lives of people around me, their realities. It is a feeling I have too often as it pertains to what happens around me and on a grander scale in our country.  Voting isn’t changing things.  This place of expansive wealth should be safe for everyone, not just some. A feeling of helplessness: why is this still this way?

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