Occasionally, when I’m out and about in my hometown, I run into old home folks; people I went to high school or elementary with, people who elected (whether knowingly or no) to stay here, settle, and do whatever there is to do here — live out their lives, as best they can.
I saw two of those people today.
Cheryl gave me hope. She was always picked on in school — people thought she was mentally retarded. I don’t think that was the case. She is diabetic with a horrible sweet tooth. She was like an alcoholic in some ways — she looked and acted drunk, stumbling around, and greedily eating cookies from the lunch line or a candy bar from the machines.
I saw her today, clean, fairly neat, and walking calmly through Wal-Mart, pushing a cart.
She looked just like everyone else.
Brandon gave me gratitude. I turned a wrong corner in Wal-Mart, and Brandon was there, with a woman, and what seemed like an army of kids in tow. [I saw them as they were leaving too, and had a chance to count: there were only four. It seemed like at least six.] He looked calm, as gently persistent as I’ve always known him to be — a kind of gentle giant, a secure place in the midst of tumult. The woman looked harried, and a bit tired, but shopping with four kids can account for that. The kids were wild, running in a kind of erratic orbit around Brandon and the woman, never straying too far, but off in odd directions, and sometimes out of sight. They seemed to have an internal compass that kept them within ear-shot, if not eye-shot, of their parents.
I was grateful that I didn’t have to keep up with them. And yet, Brandon showed me that they can keep up with themselves to some extent, and that family life might not be so bad….