Yesterday we slept late, grabbed a cheeseburger at McDonald's, and headed out for a day of wandering the outlet mall in central Ohio. We made a short pit stop at the auto mall right next door to the outlet mall. The recent what-will-break-next adventures, have made me realize it may be time to invest in a cheapo car that will reliably get me back and forth to and from work every day. After a test drive in a Hyundai something-or-other...with an airbag light that wouldn't turn off and an air blower that wouldn't turn on...and the car salesman saying, "You've got to give me something here...how about x dollars a month," we decided to wait a bit and find the "perfect" junker. Actually, we HAVE the junker...we need the "perfect" cheap car that ISN'T a junker.
So...off we went to the outlet mall. In between stops at the twenty-five cent ride machines and the free playground we managed to hit exactly SIX stores. I swear, those amusements were either installed by a) someone who knew parents shop in twos, so the kid(s) can play with one parent watching while the other parent shops; or b) someone who has NO idea how much time it takes from the shopping experience for one child to experience all of these delights (because, of course, you can not pass up even ONE when you have a child in tow). But my wonderful husband took pity on me and sat at the playground watching Sam play while I was able to hit the candle store (to buy a small gift for a friend whose marriage is ending), and again while I wandered in Bath and Body Works' 50% off sale.
We got chocolate...the kind of expensive chocolate you can only get at those outlet mall shops (this one being Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory). Sam got chocolate covered marshmallows, and Steve and I got peanut butter cups that weighed about a quarter pound each. They were delish!
We would have shopped more, but we had agreed to transport some shelter pups up north to near home (on their way to rescue in New York state). So we loaded up two gorgeous shepherd mix girls and headed north.
On the way home, I sat in the front seat passenger seat and watched the sunset lights play across the trees that have started to change colors. The light itself was that gorgeous buttery yellow and marmalade orange that made the trees look like something in a painting. Beautiful doesn't seem quite a strong enough word to describe it.
As I was watching the light, I reflected on the day and its pleasantness, excluding the pushy car salesman and the potty training accident (which thankfully occurred in the outdoor mall hallway). I had a GOOD time. There was only one or two moments where there was anything remotely close to sadness or melancholy...one was walking past the Healthtex outlet and the other was when an adorable boy rode by in a stroller, about the same age Alex should be right now.
Now how did that happen?
I realized that none of the people know me. The saleslady at Bath & Body Works would sell me my shower gel the same as the way she would have before Alex died. Because she didn't know. The sales guy at the candle store would have been just as cute and friendly, because he didn't know. The salesman at the car dealership would have been just as pushy...because he didn't know.
There is freedom in not knowing...In not being taken along for the ride on the roller coaster to and from hell. There is peace in moving on. The fact that I can shop amazes me. But the fact that I enjoy it is almost beyond amazing. I'm definitely a softer, more friendly shopper now (though I did walk out on the car sales guy when he was a jerk). I'm definitely quieter and less quick to smile. But surrounding myself with people who don't know my sad sad story seems to provide at least a brief respite from the sadness.
And it was good enough to last through our visit with my parents today. I was able to smile knowingly when my mom showed up at our house with red eyes and a stuffed nose, saying, "We stopped on the way over here." They had visited Alex, and it was ok...it didn't even bring tears to my eyes.
Balance. It's all about balance. Balancing out those people who know with those people who don't know. Finding things to do and making sure I don't project my grief and sadness onto everyone I run into. I need to let it go every now and then. I know it will find me again. But there is relief in letting go of it when I can...maybe even happiness.