mundane joy

Over at metachat, a simple survey gave me a chance to reflect on the unexpected generosity of near-strangers. In a month that has been stressful for reasons best kept private, I’ve had very little to say, and I’m glad to cross-post here my response to the question What’s in your pockets right now? (Or, y’know, your purse or bag or whatever, if you’re more the purse-or-bag-or-whatever type.)

In my pocket: about $5 in quarters. I’m doing laundry.

In my handbag:
wallet, which holds debit card, credit card, library cards, blood donor card, etc., eleven dollars cash, a never-to-be-redeemed coupon for a haircut, pictures of my entirely adorable flock of nieces and nephews (nine and counting!), two checks payable to me, one for a tiny sum and one for a (to me) GIANT SUM, and several fully punched coffee cards from a local coffeehouse.
the weekly newsletter my partner writes for the videostore where he works. It’s always funny, and I have a full collection dating back about eighteen months.
a plastic soapbox full ob o.b. tampons (and did I feel smug when I figured out they fit perfectly in there, yes I did!)
cell phone, always silenced so don’t even bother calling
bus schedule
a minimum of three and maximum of five lip balms, somewhere unfindable
pens, similar in number and vexing elusiveness
safety pin keychain given me twenty-odd years ago when I was a teenaged punk
small bag holding folding hairbrush, band-aids, powder, nail scissors, and the like
The Amateur Marriage, by Anne Tyler, which I am saving for an upcoming trip
packets of tissues, since I am a big crybaby
presciption and non-prescription analgesics, packed in a tiny tin formerly containing almonds sent me from the Almond Board of California
a fabric grocery bag that folds up into its tiny pouch, so cunning and small that I routinely forget I have it and accept a despicable disposable plastic bag.

One of the coolest things in my wallet deserves to be described as more than one of a series. It’s a small yellow handwritten I.O.U. given me by a young gothy girl who works in a local consignment shop. Last winter, she noticed I came around much less often and was less smiley than usual. When she pressed me, I told her my father was ill. When I left the shop, she pressed into my hand an I.O.U. for a coffee date, saying she would like to take me out and cheer me up whenever I felt up to it. I haven’t taken her up on her offer yet, but whenever I see the yellow edge of her I.O.U. peeking out of my wallet, I’m heartened by the kindness that near-strangers can bestow on us as we walk through life.

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