So it's not a secret that I'm something of an ochlophobe. For those unfamiliar with the term, it's someone who doesn't like being in crowds.
I find them overwhelming.
It's mysteriously inconsistent though. I can go to a concert or movie, sit in my seat, enjoy it.
I've been to some outdoor concerts and had lawn seats, same thing. Yet other times, those same lawn seats were torture.
The disjointed crowd, talking in a million conversations, feeling, doing so many different things makes me feel trapped. My head pounds. My stomach rolls. It's a terrible feeling.
The funny thing about all this is I'm an entertainer. I love to perform TO a crowd. I have no fear whatsoever of public speaking, love reading my work in front of an audience, love making people laugh, think, or be aroused. I'm a storyteller.
I like to be in FRONT of crowds, just not IN them. I must be some sort of arrogant masochist or something.
So why, on Thanksgiving, would I possibly go to a supermarket? What am I, crazy?
No, just unwilling to be compromised by my fears when we needed some things. I'm glad I did, too, because it actually became something of a profound experience.
When I got out of the car, I parked next to this guy who had a completely ridiculous sticker on his car. This one. That got me in a whimsical mood. But it was nothing compared to the people I'd run into next.
As I walked down the aisle of the crowded parking lot, I saw a young family with two small children, juggling many packages, and loading their car.
The mother would patiently hand something to their daughter, who I think was maybe six, who in turn would hand it to her father, who would put it away. He was also holding their son, a toddler, on his hip. The whole process was needlessly awkward, slow, charming, and funny. Both parents caught my eye as I strolled past, and both smiled at me and nodded toward their daughter, who clearly felt very important. I wished them a happy thanksgiving, and kept going.
In the store, I wound up behind this couple who were hysterically funny. The woman would alternate between rushing the man she was with, and then stopping to pick something off the shelves, because they needed it. Every time he would put something into the cart, she would scold him for slowing them down.
I smiled walking past them, and he winked at me. I laughed out loud. She saw me, and laughed too. Then they just amped the whole act up, for comic effect.
Lastly, when I checked out, I had the most hyperkinetic doofus checkout clerk ever. She had a good look at the french wine I was buying, pronounced it acceptable, and asked what time she should come over. It was really funny, if a teensy tiny bit creepy and off-putting. Mostly, I was in awe of her frenetic energy, and how she turned what could be an exhausting job on a hard day into something really very positive.
That was the moment when my gratitude for the day rolled up and soundly struck me. I love people. I love every last one of them. People are noisy, confusing, mixed up crazy messes, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I get so much joy out of my interactions with other people, even total strangers.
I'm grateful for all of you.