I told the two initially hesitant young people, “Lunch is on me. No, really. No, it’s okay. Just say thanks and have a great day!” The young man said, “Well, okay, thank you!” as a smile almost certainly formed on his face. The young woman with him just widened her eyes in surprise and nodded. She was so demure that she may have spoken – and her voice was so faint it might not have pierced the fabric of her mask. I stepped up to pay for their food and tip and then ordered my food. The cashier got tickled that I tipped on my bill, too. They thanked me again as I walked past to wait for my to-go order. It was a Lemon Moment, one that lightened my beleaguered step.
As I left, even though my right knee still hurt, I hurried down the sidewalk and across the crosswalk, barely recognizing the backdrop of discomfort. The sun was on my back and face and my arm was laden with delicious and healthy food that I would certainly enjoy.
I stopped at the mailbox on the way home. A van was parked in front of the community boxes. As I stepped up to use my key, a voice said, “Hey Pelón!” (He’s Latino and we always speak Spanish as our preferred language. He has much more personality in his native language, too.) I turned to see an old friend smiling at me. We once worked together. The job was often grueling and thankless but many friendships were forged there. He lives in the same neighborhood. In fact, the day he came to see about buying a house, it was me who introduced him to the overall pros and cons of choosing a house here – before he had to suffer the presence of a salesman who didn’t speak Spanish and had no discernible sense of humor. My old friend is moving for a variety of reasons, some of which don’t reflect well on the area. We traded several laughs. Out of left field, he casually told me he has a specific type of cancer. He caught it early and he’s stoic about that sort of thing anyway. Through the laughter, I felt terrible for him. He is a hard worker and left his other job so he could enjoy life more, something I mentioned to him often when we worked together. In the middle of simplifying his life, cancer knocked on his door. Still, we laughed.
I forgot all about my knee for a moment and whispered a word of thanks to the universe. Not because the fickle finger of circumstance chose another, but because in this instance, the person afflicted did not take his selection as an indictment about life. He still laughs. Undoubtedly today – and always.
The food was indeed delicious. The moments, though? Sublime.
I’ll take another helping of those.