Earlier this week I squeezed in one last shopping trip to Office Depot. I needed ink for my new favorite pen, plus one final gift to round out my Christmas shopping. Afterwards I was meeting a friend for coffee, so I allotted my time with a little room just in case.
Anyone who frequents Longmont for any reason knows you may get stuck in train traffic for any length of time. As a longtime resident, I know how to get around, but this particular day I had to sit in the traffic. I couldn’t go around and the train was gonna do what the train needed to do.
I meticulously crafted my plan, not factoring in the train traffic that backed up eastbound on Nelson all the way to Hover. By the time I got to Office Depot I was pressed for time, but my plan was still on target. I made a beeline for the refill ink, before gathering the gift and other supplies.
The store was oddly crowded, and as I made my way to the cash registers, a handful of people were waiting in line. I knew it needed to go quick, otherwise I’d be late for my meeting.
As I approached the register an elderly gentleman standing with his caregiver watched me approach. I noticed him, he noticed me, we locked eyes. As I got closer his generous face burst into the widest of smiles. I smiled back and he began speaking a bit frantic.
His caregiver looked at me, and back at him. She asked him some questions as if she were talking to a child. “Do you know her, Marv?” she said.
She looked over at me, translating, “He says he knows you.”
I mentioned something about having a high number of doppelgängers in the world, feeling equal measures of discomfort and glee. I continued to smile at him and he continued to smile at me.
And then clear as day, with obvious resolve and a tinge of frustration, he said, “Yes, I know her. I love her.”
And then again, “I love her!”
I glanced around at the handful of people, employees and customers alike. Everyone was transfixed, witnessing the exchange. And I began to cry.
I cried for him. Obviously he loved a woman once who looked like me, and here he was in an impersonal office supply store purchasing a 2020 desktop calendar to plan his life. And I cried for me. To be seen and known and loved was everything in that moment.
This encounter with Marv, while brief, was a gift. Being seen and known and loved even by a stranger while rushing between errands and appointments, delayed by the most annoying Longmont train, brought my world to a halt for just a moment.
A wide grin, an obvious declaration, a fleeting moment between two people waiting to pay for office supplies.
What a gift.
I wish you the best Marv. You’re a good one. I love you too.