It's quarter to 9pm on a Monday and I'm buying overpriced European butter and organic buttermilk from the fancy health food store. It's not that I need the buttermilk to be organic, or the butter to be European; it's just that this is the only grocery store on my direct route home.
The cashier, an affable man around my age in a short-sleeved black button down patterned with white sunglasses, asks me how my day is going. I decide to answer honestly. This is my way.
ME: It's been up and down, but it's pretty good now.
The day started well enough. 9am teleconference; my video feed didn't work, but that wasn't such a bad thing. I took a walk to a coffee shop and wrote a poem on the way. Then on to the office; it had been a bad-mood afternoon there, maybe a symptom of what a bad-feeling week it is to be an American. As I check out now, I have just left a 2-hour meeting that ended at 8:30pm, but it was a meeting I'd been looking forward to. I am going home to make late-night scones.
HIM: That's good. Most people spiral. Something goes wrong early, and the whole day is downhill from there.
ME: Huh. I guess you're right. But that's not me. I'm up and down --
Here, I gesture with my hands, indicating a bumpy ride. I don't realize until I'm saying this how true it is. Up and down, up and down. This is an improvement from more difficult past days. But I don't see that yet -- I'm too busy being comically self-deprecating.
ME: It's a real rollercoaster ride of emotions.
HIM: (A sincere smile on his face) Sounds like a fun ride!
ME: (taken aback) Yeah, sometimes. Yes.
I am about to leave when it occurs to me that I have forgotten something important.
ME: How was your day?
HIM: (thinking) Pretty good. I got a lot of compliments.
ME: On your shirt?
HIM: (Looking down at his shirt; realizing what he's wearing) Oh, ha. Maybe one.
ME: It's a great shirt. Hey, now that's two.
I left. I almost laughed walking to my car, buttermilk straining the worn straps of my shoulder bag.
It's so easy to forget this power we have to push one another up that next hill.