Confession: I am not much of a Black Friday shopper.
My purchases of the day totaled one large plastic sled, two gas candle lighters, one sympathy card, and one bottle of dish soap. My friend bought a couch. She is a sweet old lady, this friend, and I am starting to forget that the first time I walked into her trailer I almost passed out from the stench. I have gotten used to it by now, a little, and also it’s not every day she has chicken dying in a pot on her stove, though I didn’t know it then.
She bought a couch today and I worry about her, worry that she doesn’t have the money for it and worry that she’ll lose the receipt as she loses everything else, and then how will Big Lots know she bought it when she and her son go to pick it up? or when she changes her mind and decides to get a refund?
I worry. How will she tell the good food we just bought from the bad food spilling from her fridge? What if her itch is from bugs in her bed? Does she have someone to spend her holiday with? Is she going to remember where she put the medicine, and that I took her blankets away only to wash them and will bring them back on Sunday?
She’s a sweet old lady, this friend, and she insists on buying me coffee. She wants me to get a burger too, like she does, but it’s freeing for me to tell her very firmly that I’m not eating. I always want to make people happy, but I cannot make her happy because she doesn’t know what makes her happy, so this is a good relationship for me and I am growing.
She is terrified that I will not take any money for running her around on errands (and so turn her into a charity case) and terrified that I will take too much money (and turn her into a pauper and a fool, both). She panics when she cannot find her cash. She tells me if I find any one hundred dollar bills in her house to let her know; I think she is teasing but there is fear underneath it. One minute she worries that she’s paid me twice and the next she presses me to take a few more dollars, but I say no. Very firmly. We are settled up, Miss Bertie*, and I am not taking any more money.
I don’t want her money. I have what I need to buy the sled and the dish soap, and I don’t want a couch even if it is Black Friday. I want a few things I cannot find at Big Lots by the sleds, nor on the bargain racks, nor in the sentiments on the sympathy cards. I cannot buy them, spy them, DIY them. I want the world to be whole, and all the old ladies to have a friend to take them shopping.
* You already know what I’m going to say here. That’s not her real name.