Adrian was totally on to me. An attractive, slender blonde of average height, her face was very familiar, but I couldn’t remember her name (turned out I didn’t yet know it) and could not recall any conversations we had had. But I did recognize her and she clearly knew me. I was having a tough morning and she knew it – she had obviously been checking me out when she was next up in the line. When she moved in front of me, she immediately asked me my stock question, “What’s been a highlight of your day?” with a really compassionate look. Oh, Lord, it’s that obvious that I’m in bad shape.
“You know about my question.”
“I’ve been reading your blog – I really like it.”
I have two responses: “Nice – she’s reading the blog. That feels good.” And “Oh shit – if she’s reading the blog, she knows just how bad my days can get. I feel very exposed.” There followed a brief, intense wrestling match between these two voices. I chose a few years ago to be a spokesman around bipolar disorder, to write and teach about it – to make it my personal mission. I chose to write a personal blog. I chose to out myself around bipolar disorder in the blog – even though coworkers and customers would be reading it. Oh, but right in this moment I’m not sure I can bear the openness.
Audrey has bought two little 89 cent chocolates – my fav’s, though I’m off sugar. Her brief (10 items?) transaction is over and she leaves the chocolates on the counter after putting the rest of the stuff in her bag. “Do you want a chocolate or a hug?” Even if I was still doing sugar, it would have been an easy choice. “I’ll take a hug.” I indicated to the next customer – who had heard the whole conversation – that I would be just a moment and Audrey and I met at the foot of the counter. There was no ambivalence on my part in that hug – it just felt great, better even than chocolate.
As Audrey left, I continued to feel great – great about the hug, great about the blog, great about the life path I have chosen: to live a relatively public life, to offer my life for teaching about cashiering, about bipolar disorder, about life.
I was a little dizzy through this next customer. The guy after her, when I asked him my stock question, answered “I’m vertical and taking nourishment.” I had heard this somewhat clever answer before, but never had it meant so much to me.