A couple of weeks ago I met a new friend.
We met for an entire day, having never even shared a phone call. Though there was a time when this sort of thing would have made me a ratty jumble of nerves, I found myself looking forward to it.
I wondered, am I losing my introvertedness? Did the internet warp my personality?
Then I spent six straight hours in silence while my kids were at school, ignoring every phone call, no radio, no TV, no podcasts. (The concept of listening to podcasts is so foreign to me, I can't even tell you. I want to do this thing, but I can't understand why I would invite such interruption into my silent hours. So, here I still am, utterly podcastless.) I don't even make eye contact with the cat when I'm home alone.
Yep. Still an awkward introvert.
(I'm not saying all introverts are awkward, I'm just saying awkwardness is a vital part of my life's fabric. It makes for a stunning combo.)
Just as we pulled up to the coffee shop for breakfast, I blurted out, "Wait, are you a healthy eater?" It was a sudden, visceral concern. Could I forge a friendship with a girl disinclined to eat chocolate-filled carbs at 9 a.m.?
I couldn't say.
She assured me she likes the smell of junk food in the morning, then somehow segued into a story about doing a pull-up. Scratch that, FIVE pull-ups.
I mean, I was scared.
But five minutes into our "breakfast", I knew we were good to go.
We had a great many things to discuss. We share all kinds of common ground, except for the fact that she also plays basketball regularly with college dudes oh my gosh how do I get myself into these situations?
I could choose to ignore her glaring athleticism.
I was willing to overlook this obvious character flaw.
(Also, isn't she pretty?)
To celebrate overcoming this first hurdle to our friendship (does she jump hurdles, too? probably so) I took her to my favorite thrift store.
This feels like the right time to tell you her name, although writing about her in 3rd person does build intrigue....
Fine. It's Janell.
We spent the next 90 minutes sorting through good junk.
I got a cart, which I've never done in the history of my love for our local MCC Thrift Store.
I texted Cory a picture of an old man cardigan to match his old man beard and he wrote back, "It looks like a ladies sweater!"
Which, to be fair, I did accidentally buy him a ladies flannel the previous week from Goodwill, so he was still a bit suspicious, and rightly so.
Anyway, we filled the dang cart UP.
I kept tossing stuff in like I was some kind of secondhand Kardashian, then at the very end I put a bunch of it back, which I tend to do, including a supah-cute tea pot that Janell swooped in and grabbed.
I had no idea she was eyeing the tea pot!
(I'm so glad I didn't have to arm wrestle her for it.)
What is wrong with me?
Do I plan to wear that tube top as a tube top, or turn it into a skirt? I'LL NEVER TELL.
As for the rest of it, I have no defense.
Listen, many of the ladies at the MCC are the sweetest EVER. They're volunteers. And they're, I mean, in their golden years.
They're smart and snappy and they always oooh and aaah over what I'm buying, to the point that I sometimes feel bad, like maybe I should offer it to them.
But on this particular day there was some confusion with the register. Or...something. Plus, we bought ALL OF THE THINGS, which wasn't helping.
It took a reallllllllly long time to check Janell out.
And when it was all said and done (all and all and ALL said and done)...
Nothing seemed quite right.
Blue tags were 50% off and I had lots of blue tags!
Something was off.
So we started all over. Bless it.
But after I'd finally paid and after our sweet check-out gal had taken my coupon and apologized for the tenth time, she grabbed those bags and with grave concern in her eyes, took one look at me, then looked right past me at Janell.
She said, holding my bags out to a person who DID NOT OWN THE BAGS, "Here. You look young." (Quick glance back at me then right back to Janell.) "And strong."
And she handed Janell my bags.
Even though my hands were entirely free.
Even though Janell was already carrying her own stuff.
They say youth is wasted on the young.
If you ask me, youth is wasted on the middle-aged-ish.
(Also if you ask me, height is wasted on the uncoordinated and rapid-movement-opposed.)
My name is Shannan. I'm almost 39. I hang around spring chicks a decade younger than myself who do sport things in an intentional and unironic way. I have low muscle tone and that tell-tale wrinkle between my eyes that inspires Silas to ask, "Why do you sometimes look mad when you're only not grumpy?"
But I can show you a good time.