Kindness Doesn’t Take the Pain Away, But it Does Make it More Beautiful

I’m glad yesterday has become yesterday. I tried to have a good day. I really did my best. I got up early and showered and fussed over my face and what I would wear, and went to Perk’s Coffee as usual, looking pretty damn good. But it was noisy and I couldn’t concentrate on anything and my stomach was getting pissed off at the iced coffee. So I went home.
I don’t know what I did then. I napped, which always makes things worse. I sat on the recliner with the laptop on my lap and stared at the screen saver – various pictures of tigers slowly rising to the top. I might have eaten something. Yes I’m sure I ate something. My stomach was still angry at me for what I made it drink before, but I think the food might have helped.
I suppose I could have cleaned up the clothes in my room. I suppose I could have done the wash. But it’s hard to do any of those things when the fool mind returns again and again to it’s fictions about aliens and the possibility that death is a wormhole that opens up between this world and home.
They were the same old stories, and I was fed up with them, so I grabbed my bag, sunglasses, keys, and a canvas hightop shoe I’d been decorating with colored pencil and went back to Perks.
It was busy still but less noisy.  My new friend Anna was there with a group of others and we waved and our faces made the kind of smiles that come from living a long time with pain.  Brief.  A silent genuine “I see you,” and I moved on to greet the barista and order my drink.
This time I ordered a fruit smoothie. I sat down on the couch by the window, grabbed the shoe and black colored pencil and just sat there with my sunglasses still on because my eyes were shaking.
After a few minutes, Anna came over to say hi, and I asked about her pain and if she slept at all and she said she had her husband and kids to help. I don’t know what I said about me when she asked. Maybe nothing. But she recognized something. She understood something, and her lips lifted up a little and her eyes looked me all over.
“Well, you look great,” she said as if she knew I already knew. I mumbled a pathetic thanks and there was quiet for a few moments. “You know,” she began again, “I’ve always felt if I don’t feel good on the inside, I should at least look good on the outside.”
And somehow that made more sense to me than anything I’d heard all year.
She went back to her friends and I sat sort of stunned for a while, pleased I think, with my looking-good-ness. Then I turned to look away out the window, because the shaking in my eyes had begun to run down to my mouth.

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