Been up and down the road a bit. Capturing memories in my back pocket. Spending summer vacation days with the Adorables as they had time off from school, and totally eating up every sunshiny sandcastle moment of it. I’ve also been praying for strangers at every turn. Old people in restaurants, young sassy people at the deli counters, amusement park kids running the ferris wheel. One thing about vacationing – it gets you off the couch and out into the sea of humanity in a very major way.
For those keeping tabs – Praying for Strangers is now in the hands of its most excellent editor at Penguin, the final book cover is in design, and other talks are happening about the best way to present this amazing story to the world. IN the meantime as my life goes on in a multitude of writerly and personal ways, I keep praying for those that cross my path in a special way. Although it was never what I intended – my resolution has truly become a lifestyle.
And this is what it looks like up close from the inside out.
I’ve had weeks of vacationing with the Adorables (officially grandchilden girls 8 and 3) and have pulled out all the fun cards that a Zaza can find (their official name for me). Then husband and I delievered them safely home again to North Carolina and drove north to visit his Dad, his old stomping grounds of his babydom of Slaughter Beach, Delaware and up the coast to the old gang outside of Philly where we hit the neighborhood Tavern to meet with his high school buddies where they could catch up on life. Now, as I’m talking to one of the wives I look up and lock eyes with the Spanish woman pushing a broom. I smile and she says “HI!” like she knows me because for a moment she thinks she does. I get up and walk over to her, put my arm around her shoulder where I can hear her. “You’ve been here before? Yes?” “No,” I say, “This is the first time I’ve been here.”
Then I start listening to her story. Her Name is Nora. Her life is not an easy one. She tells me some day she’d like to write her story before she finds out I’m a writer. “I’ve had a hard life,” she says. “I’ve lost my daughter. I don’t know where she is.”
She talks about being from the Honduras about how long she’s lived here. About her daughter being American and angry with her for not having things like the other girls her age. Things like cell phones and new clothes. Then she asks me questions about Nashville, about what it’s like and if its friendly. “And work? There is work there? What type of work can people like me do there?” People like me. I look at her and think about rules and laws and immigration and my thoughts about those things. Policy thoughts are one thing, Looking into Nora’s eye’s is another. “I’ve got my visa,” she says. “Are there people like me there in this place Nashville?”
“Yes, Nora, there are people like you there.”
“And what kind of work do we do there?” She looks quickly around for the manager that walks through the door to the outdoor patio, she begins pushing the broom, her eyes following it’s path as she continues talking to me. “Work like this yes? This kind of work.”
“Yes, work like this and other work. Restaurants a lot.”
“But it’s friendly there yes? People are nice?”
Yes, I tell her. But what do I know really. People are friendly to me. They are friendly to my sister. To strangers. We find it to be one of the friendliest people on the planet. We like our adopted city. It has big heart we think and quick to lend a hand. But is that what Nora would find as she keeps searching for a place to accept her, to give her a job. To call home? I can’t tell her the truth or a lie. What do I know? All I can do is offer up a prayer so I tell her that but I also scribble my cell number on the back of business card just in case she finds her way states away on a dark night where it turns out the place isn’t as friendly as I’d hoped it would be.
I give her a hug and she pushes her broom on across the floor under the mangers watchful eyes. She looks back at me one more time before she goes through the door. I pat my heart and point to her trying to say, “Right here Nora, will be keeping you in my prayers and I’ll remember you.”
And I do.