Friday, August 6, 2010

The centre cannot hold

"Would you like some lemonade?" the little boy shouted from too far down the sidewalk.

"I would!" I replied, beginning to heave the four bags I was carrying off my shoulders so I could locate my purse. I was grateful to have cash for once in my life.

"25 cents please," he said as I pulled out my wallet. I gave him a dollar and he looked at his mom, who was sitting behind him supervising.

"How much back again?" he asked.

"You don't have to give me change," I said, "but can you tell me how much money you WOULD give me back if I wanted some?"

He was stumped. Slowly he said, "You owe me one quarter... "

"And how many quarters are in a dollar?" his mom prompted.

"Four. So, four minus one is 3. I'd owe you 3 quarters."

At this point, he was crumpling my dollar into a tight ball and refusing to look at me. I was much too difficult. He just wanted a new Nerf gun, and my forcing him to do math on his summer break was a cruel consequence he hadn't anticipated when he was plotting his entrepreneurial endeavor.

His mom smiled at me though, and wished me a good weekend.

It has been a long few weeks, though few things of consequence have personally tested me. However, some of the people around me are having a rough go, and I tend to worry about them more than I should, take on their heartbreaks and fights as my own. Some, I am too honest with even when they can't handle it. Others I worry about from far away as I lose sleep over the impossible decisions they're facing.

As I was about to enter a jam-packed weekend that leaves little time for introspection, I was heartened by a parent who loves her kid enough to spend the afternoon selling lemonade on their quiet street. By his stammering as he worked to remember how many coins are in a dollar after months off from school.

And I was uplifted remembering that the only reason I am so down lately is because I have surrounded myself with people that I love fiercely, that I am willing to fight for. I also realize how lucky I am to have a network that would do the same for me.

Still, I kind of wish the mom had recognized that what I really needed was a vodka lemonade. From the looks of business, she might need one too.