“And you can sing this song
On July the Fourth
In the sunny south and the frozen north
It’s a day of loss, it’s your day of birth
Does it take a death to learn what a life is worth?”
— Jackson Browne, “Of Missing Persons”
The woman in the deli aisle turned to me suddenly and said:
“ — What is that awful smell?”
My reaction was probably the facial version of a shrug. It was true there was an obnoxious odor, something like Essence of Rotting Rhino Carcass, emanating from the produce section.
Her random stranger-to-stranger communication mostly put me off, but then I felt weirdly amused. (Because “weirdly amused” is one of my many personality defaults.)
What, I wondered, if everyone today was speaking in non sequitur nonsense to everyone else … and I just didn’t get the memo? “Caraway Space Kitten Overdrive,” confides an old man by the freezer case.
A kid in a bug-shaped, tot-sized grocery cart points at the ceiling and slurs, “Holden gave it all away!”
“Hey kid,” I reply, “I dig a pony.” His mother scowls at me and they move on.
I know, I know. This isn’t real. But after this past week, nothing seems quite real to me.
You see, the morning of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday I awoke to a startling addition to my email in-box. It was a notification from my WordPress blog there was a comment awaiting approval, to my post titled “Mandy.”
The comment read:
“This is Jay. I may have already left a reply. My dear sister passed away from Lukiema on 10/23/17. It is amazing reading your recollection of our childhood. Thanks for memorializing Mandy. She was very special.”
I had to sit down. It just came out of nowhere, out of a clear blue winter sky. It didn’t make sense, it was a non sequitur.
Holden gave it all away!
I hadn’t thought of Mandy since I’d published the post in 2010.