Something really beautiful and extraordinary happened to me today.
I work at a consignment store (The Stock Exchange in Chapel Hill- go there- it is awesome) on Tuesdays. I started shopping there more than 10 years ago when my dearest friend, Claire, told me she shopped there. Claire had always been fearless with fashion, loving color and fabrics, her clothes reflecting her mood, which was always upbeat, even in less-than-upbeat circumstances. Her flair was contagious. I wanted some. The Stock Exchange (TSE) has since been where I buy nearly all of my clothes. Even though Claire died 8 years ago and I lost my BFF of a lifetime, I still love shopping there.
More than a year ago, in the middle of a podcast referring to Joseph Campbell's famous life instructions to "follow your bliss", I pulled into The Stock Exchange to drop off some items to consign. I walked in and felt immediately at ease, perky and happy, thanks to whatever great tunes were playing, the warm greetings from everyone in the room, the endearing phrases over the dressing rooms like "Love", "Peace", "Dream". I thought to myself: God, I love it here. I think what I feel when I am here is "bliss". I looked up and saw Lindsay, the owner, and said, "Lindsay, do people ever just work here for a few hours a week?" She said, "Sure." I asked, "Can I work here?" She said, "SURE!" She asked, "Have you ever worked retail before?" "NOPE!" I said. "No problem!" smiled Lindsay. It was the most natural and authentic interview I've ever had for a job I knew immediately I would love.
I usually work Tuesdays but had a conflict this week so asked if I could work Monday instead. "Perfect!", said Lindsay. "Someone called in sick so that works out well!"It's silly but little changes in routine can whack me out in big ways. I love flexibility and adore freedom- but I like everything to work out just the way I imagine it will (what's wrong with that?). Working Monday instead of Tuesday was really messing with my rhythm and routine. I raged in my head, even out loud in my closet while getting dressed, running late as usual. I practiced deep breathing. I surrendered and let my mood just "be". I made it in, watered the plants, felt my spirits lifting.
About an hour later, I heard the little bell on the door that rings whenever a customer walks in. I looked up and saw a man - this is unusual in a women's clothing store so it caught my attention- and recognized Claire's husband, Ron. I called out, "RON! Hi! What're you doing here?? Did you know I work here on Tuesdays? Even though today is Monday?" "Tracey!" he replied. "No- I did not know you worked here. I can't keep track of all the places you are working these days!" We embraced and laughed. I saw that he had some bags with him. I knew he'd been dating another woman for some years so thought it must be some of her items he was dropping off to help her out. I asked him, "Whatcha' got there?" He said, "These are a sampling of Claire's clothes. I called and spoke to someone about bringing a few things in." In disbelief I asked, "Is this the first time you've brought in Claire's clothes?" "Yes," he said, "I've just been waiting for the right time. Emma has gone through them and has taken the things from her mother that she wants. Carolyn was okay with finally going through her only child's closet. So I decided it was time."
I was emotional. I introduced Ron to my coworkers and explained how Claire was the reason I ever entered TSE all that time ago. I got to share some amazing memories of her with them and with Ron. Yes, it's been eight years since Claire died but I could feel Claire's presence with us- her energy running through all of us. Her name was still in the computer system. We linked her account with Ron's so he could track his earnings online. I went through the clothes myself and got to touch them and feel her in the wool and cotton and velvet. What a magical, serendipitous, precious gift- one that I never would have experienced had I worked my usual Tuesday instead.