I wanted to first thank everyone who responded to my shameless plea for e-mail followers. Y’all made my day. And as I said, if there’s anything I can follow or promote in return, I’m your girl. Hit me up, as the kids say… Ok, I don’t think they say that any more.

I have a tale of almost so much insignificance that I hesitated to write about it. Yet here I am, and here it is.

The other day I stopped at the co-op on my way home from work. This is a fairly regular occurrence if I want fresh bread for dinner, or, on too many occasions, a cupcake or espresso chocolate cookie for dessert. They also have really good coconut soft serve ice cream… But I digress.

When I go shopping, I first stop at the customer service desk to ask for shopping assistance. Unlike at other stores in the area, I’ve never felt awkward doing this. I don’t ever feel like I’m taking someone’s precious time, or like I’m over-working someone already over-worked. There’s also never been that awkward fumbling while an employee tries to figure out who to find to “take care” of the situation. Many of the people I shop with I now know by name and kind of wish I could have a beer with, all professionalism aside. Many of them patiently read me all the different types of olive oil (there are many, believe me), all the flavors of Greek yogurt, and cheerfully test avocado ripeness with me, although sometimes neither of us knows quite what we’re feeling for.

After I’m done buying all the hippie-dippy, organic, non-genetically-modified, local, green, raw, crunchy, sustainably raised super foods I can cram into a week’s worth of kitchen dabbling, the person I’m shopping with usually walks me to a check out line. They help me bag everything up, and usually walk outside with me. Most of them say it’s a good excuse to feel fresh air and see the sun, (or, in the case of the last five months, get snowed on and realize they liked it better inside). All through this time, the shopping, the checking out, the bagging, the walking outside, I’m talking and interacting with someone. Which is why I actually have to be in the “mood” to go to the grocery store. If I’m feeling particularly introvert-y one day, it’s best I wait until the next, because it does require some amount of social energy. And as much as I adore my co-op and the people there, I often entertain a fantasy of walking into a grocery store, grabbing a cart, and doing it all myself, not saying a word to anyone.

The other day, I got a little taste of that. The person I was shopping with said thank you to me at the check-out counter and left. I completed my transaction with the person at the register, someone helped me bag up my groceries, and then left them at the end of the counter. No one asked if I wanted assistance to the door, or made any comments about the opportunity to go outside. So, I checked out with minimal smalltalk, walked to the end of the counter, picked up my bag (as opposed to someone handing it to me, or insisting on carrying it until I reached the door), and walked out of the store myself. I said good-bye to no one. I smiled at no one. I thanked no one, because there was no one there, and seriously, it felt awesome. I felt invisible and I loved it.

That’s not to say I don’t appreciate the help and consideration. The people at my co-op are great. But sometimes cherishing moments of being alone, walking long blocks all by myself, drinking coffee in a crowded café surrounded by people but only as an observer, are things that I look forward to and try to create as often as I can. As much as I love and thrive on interaction and interdependence, the introvert in me loves the moments when I don’t have to be “on” and no one notices me as the blind person in the room.

As much as I enjoy my co-op conversations and the people that I have them with, I enjoyed leaving quietly just as much.

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4 thoughts on “Invisibility

  1. Wow, this is fantastic. I’m so glad that you had that opportunity and then realized why it was a gift! Naturally, people usually want to be helpful and might not know the right mixture of assistance versus allowing-of-independence to give, but it sounds like everything clicked and you got to be invisible – and found it delightful. I wish you many more such opportunities in appropriate circumstances – or even inappropriate, leaving you to figure out whether to ask for help or go with the flow. You “fly blind” so artfully, my friend.

    1. Thank you so much, for reading and for the comment.
      I think you bring up a great point about the times when I need to ask for help when it isn’t offered automatically. This is something I struggle to do and it’s a good challenge for me when it happens. I think it’s hard for everyone, no matter their circumstances, to ask for assistance. It feels like admitting weakness, even though logically we know we’re not weak. I’m hoping we can all learn more about being proactive and asking for what we need, because there’s so many good people out there who want to be able to give us that.

  2. Lauren it’s great to have those small little moments that make us go ‘yeah’ that was all me. A little triumph for you to look back on when things may not be going all that smooth.

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