Monday, December 06, 2010


Grocery shopping has become an exercise in vanity-stripping for me. I've bribed myself to leave the house for this chore by tossing, one-by-one, my morning rituals. First, it was jewelry (I mean, who the hell needs earrings to decide between generic vs name-brand?), then, the morning shower got ditched (I can do that later), after that, hair and makeup left the room. I'm lucky if I wet down the sleep cowlicks before trudging out of the house. This is not to say I ever glammed-up before going to the grocery store, it's just that "presentable" has taken on a new, scaled-down meaning for me. It's liberating. Though I do draw the line at oral hygiene. Until they're in a cup by the bed, my teeth will get brushed before I head out.

Sunday found us leaving the house later than usual. I am not interested in becoming a raving, bitter lunatic in my dotage, so shopping before the I'm elbow-to-elbow with the dawdling, cell-phone-shackled, oblivious masses parked in the middle of the aisles is the gift I give to humanity. Shop early, save a life. But we had been quite productive that morning, annual online Christmas shopping just about completed in one weekend, so I was good with the delay.

We got fresh fruits and vegetable (post-Thanksgiving-leftover-sludge remedy) at the Farmer's Market. I still need to figure out what one does with kohlrabi. We were finishing up at the regular grocery store (we split up to get out the door faster) and I came around the corner and almost bumped into an old friend. I'll call her Jill (which is, coincidentally, her name). I hadn't seen Jill in maybe 10 years. It's not that we don't live in the same city, it's just that the "hub" friend who connected Barbara and I to Jill and several other couples had sort of walked away from me (or so it seemed, though not for lack of trying on my part) and we just didn't socialize outside this group.

I was strangely okay with looking like shit. (During the course of shopping I must have lifted something that left what looked like pumpkin bread smeared all over the front of my hoodie…which I discovered afterwards and was not so okay with. Jesuschrist.) Jill looked the same, grayer but still youthful and…I don't know, professional. We chatted for a minute and she said, so you haven't heard about Marsha? I hate when an old friend/acquaintance says stuff like this...though there are no cheerful ways of bringing up a tragedy you've missed. Marsha was dead. Since 9 months ago. Complications from ovarian cancer. She was 5 years younger than me and she and her partner seemed like two of the happiest lesbian couples I've ever met. A flicker of survivor's guilt passed and I asked about her partner. She was, no surprise, suffering. Holidays intensifying what was a colossal loss.

Jill and I exchanged give-your-partner-a-hug-from-me niceties and I went to find Barbara who had finished the rest of the shopping list while I was chatting. I felt stunned. Marsha was sweet. A bit overly competitive in softball and kind of a top-button-buttoned kind of gal but smart and good and dear. Her bereaved partner even sweeter.

That's it. Another friend dies and I learn about it long after the fact...though I guess it doesn't matter when you find out, we're all alone when we grieve.

Good-bye, Marsha.