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  • Aram Mitchell

the cashier

At the grocery store last week, while I was checking out in lane four, the cashier in lane five saw me and turned around and hollered over the ambient noise of groceries being bought, “Hey! Aren’t you the guy that goes on trips?”

I had purchased quite a pile of food from her for a week of backpacking with a full group last November. She logged that information in her mind and pulled it out and offered it back to me on a dreary January day when I was feeling ill and not very much like the guy who goes on trips.

“Hey!” I wanted to yell back. “Thanks for being the person who sees people. And thanks for reminding me who I am.”

I spend a lot of time contemplating the “why” of my being here and now. The why is of special interest to me, and yet slippery. That’s one of the reasons I do things like go for hikes alone in the woods, and go to cafes to scribble in a notebook.

At the end of the day though, at the end of my scribbles and strolls, once I’ve gotten the existential quandary adequately documented in my journal or loosened up on the trail, I am content with “Why not?!”

Articulating the why of being the guy that goes on trips becomes less urgent to me, and instead I lean into the daily things that help me tune in to some of the how.

Like feeding the birds. Which requires me to go on a special trip to the garage from time to time for a scoop of seed and then to the front yard where I portion the scoop out to the feeders. The birds do the rest on their own, while I sit in the floral chair and rest in the ordinary ways that I get to be who I am.

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