I have been asking for Nudges. Gentle Nudges, to be specific.
As my time in the US comes to an end - for now - I have been feeling a tiny bit of anxiety about returning to the intensity of living in Mexico. My house is not completely finished, the summer heat and the monsoon rain are still in full swing, parked cars are sliding into the ocean, and then last week an earthquake to top it off.
Meanwhile here, the weather is silly perfect. And life is soothingly calm and predictable which, I remind myself, is one of the reasons I have felt the pull to leave.
Anyhoo. Nudges. Gentle Nudges. Por favor.
In my mind, I imagined the weather turning dark gray and drizzly, making walks unpleasant and keeping me stuck in a slowly vanishing home. Something like that. Because hey, sometimes I try to be the pilot and the co-pilot. So I humbly ask for Nudges and then I describe how they should look. Silly me.
But also, to my credit, I am pretty good at catching The Nudges when they come my way.
In the last ten days or so, pretty much since the day I asked, I have received three.
The first two were clear and fun and I thought I would eventually write about them, but then came The Third Nudge and really, this is the one whose story must be told.
I had decided to treat myself to one more Seattle day. I wanted to buy some Indian tea at The Market and also pick up a couple of tiny bottles of fragrant oils at the special Tibetan store I like. The weather was once again perfect and the drive was soooo lovely, Spanish music and fresh air swirling in and out of the car, I was fully intent on harvesting every speck of pleasure the day was promising to offer.
Once in Seattle, I left my car in one of the fancy parking lots, trying to ignore that it was going to cost me two of my Mexico daily food budget. Then I stepped into the afternoon, filled to the rim with gratitude. I stopped at the Greek vendor and bought a little lunch, sat down at a turquoise metal table to savor it. Then walked some more, talked with a couple of people along the way, ducked in and out of shops, taking it all in.
As often in the last few weeks, I was feeling the lethal "need-to-compare." This stuff is bad because it takes us out of the moment and instead puts us in the this-or-that mode. Which often, is a terrible trap. Can I both be high on the lush jungle road that leads to my house over there AND be so in love with this Market and its international vibe?
Well yes, I can. And I am.
Pike Place Market is where I fell in love with the PNW decades ago. A long-ago boy had been smart enough to take me there one winter night as I was visiting him from Chicago. The air was gently cold and the vendors, with their rows of shiny tomatoes, flying fish, and friendly banter spoke of France to my DNA. That night we bought fresh pasta, a hunk of cheese, and some dessert, and before the water was even boiling I knew I was going to move here. Like I said: smart boy.
All these years later, even as most of the city's vibe has been affected by the pandemic, The Market remains one of my happy places and I am so grateful to have helped myself to its magic many times this summer.
Moving slowly, I made my way to the underground wooden-floored Tibetan store and bought my tiny treasures, then continued strolling until I reached the famous Market Spice. There I bought a few teas to take with me, and just before handing out my debit card, picked up one of the delicious-looking apple bars that were sitting by the counter.
Back in the street, I made a right turn at the De Laurenti Italian deli and munching on the apple bar, walked a few blocks south, taking it all in. Soon it would be time to get in my car for the drive back to the island.
That apple bar was something else. Like a thick square of dense chewy apple pie with pieces of granny smith hugging buttery oats. Dreamy.
It was also gone too fast, and I wanted a little more. Since I had declared a pleasure day, I turned around to go buy another apple bar for the road.
But as I was about to pay for the second piece of yumminess ... I could not find my wallet.
I stepped outside to sit on a bench and go through my whole backpack and its many pockets but nope... the little tiny grass braided wallet I had been carrying for months, the one that my friend Olga had made back in Mexico was gone.
Woa. This was NOT fun. This was not at all a good thing. Pretty soon I was making a mental inventory of the contents of the wallet and I concluded that while thank goodness some important papers (such as my residency card) were not in there, there was enough stuff that it could take me hours to make the calls needed to fix things. Not to mention how the heck was I going to get my car out of the fancy parking lot with no ticket and no card? This was not good.
Also, for anyone who has spent time in this area, you may agree with me that the chances of getting my wallet back were purty darn slim.
And meanwhile, because I do what I do, I was having a conversation with Life, god, myself, whatever we want to call it.
Me: "What the heck is this?"
Life: "You're okay. We've got this."
Me: "But whyyyyyy? This has been such a great day. I really don't see whyyyyy."
Life: "Because sometimes, you need a boost of faith."
Then radio silence.
Back to the spice shop, Max who has sold me my first apple bar kindly offers to talk to Lost and Found. I give her my phone number and decide to retrace my steps with my eyes glued to the sidewalk.
I walk the two and a half blocks I had walked minutes before. Maybe, just maybe I would find my sweet little wallet on the ground. Seemed like a very slim chance since I had not stopped anywhere, but I needed to at least try.
Reaching the end of where I had walked, all that was left to do was to turn around, find my car and invent a way to get it out of the parking lot.
Halfway through the block, still looking down and feeling pretty bummed, a store catches my eye. My heart, really. The door is open and the walls are painted in rich hues of deep orange, magenta, and lime. Everywhere, pieces of Mexican art. The name of the store is painted outside: Milagros Mexican Folkart. Milagros means miracles and "Milagros" are small religious charms, often beautiful.
You don't say.
Without deciding, I find myself in the middle of the store. I find myself held by the colors, the ... whatever that thing is that is just right in my soul. I feel as though I got teleported. And then, senselessly, I ask the man behind the counter if he has found my wallet, fully expecting him to say no - and look surprised since I have not been in his store before.
That's when he turns around, reaches behind - and holds out my little grass wallet.
"Someone just brought it in," he says.
Tears coming up, I try to thank him. I try to explain it all to him. The Nudges, the parking lot, my friend Olga. It makes no sense and I know it makes no sense. But also, I think he catches some kind of sense because he is smiling really, really big.
Back in the street, I am shaken up. I don't even really wonder how the Mexican Wallet found its way home to the Mexican Miracles Store.
The radio silence is suddenly broken by a cosmic smile. "See?" it says.
I am really affected, trying to take it all in. I walk back to the spice shop to tell them the story. Max gives me a generous discount on my new apple bar.
As my friend tells me on the phone from Mexico a few minutes later, this is not really a Gentle Nudge, this is "a push to get your booty back here."
Mexican Miracles, indeed.
SCARED OF THE SACRED