Or perhaps the reverse. Arugula will probably always taste like victory to me.
I handed in the first draft of my Masters thesis late last night– overdue, of course, mainly due to my inability to do anything important the easy way. Of course, the first thing I did after that (well, after a night of drinking and music, and then some sleep…) was go to the farmer’s market and brag to one of the farmer’s I speak to every week about its’ completion. I believe that her name is Missy, but as I don’t usually address her by name, I generally just call her the lettuce lady. Clearly, that’s what she grows. Beautiful hydroponic lettuce, fresh from the farm— often with roots still attached (we called the little butterball we got a few weeks ago Oscar, and he was adorable).
(The Lettuce Lady, picture lifted from their website.)
The lettuce lady, after a brief discussion of my thesis and much gushing (wheee! I am incredible!), gifted me with arugula to take away with my lettuce mix. I was touched. Then, the milk man gifted me with a large bottle of milk because he sold out of my usual single-person size, the bread girl gifted me with her tester remnants, and the mushroom lady sold me a giant bag of mushrooms at a very reduced cost. Not all because of the thesis, just some– I didn’t go around bragging too much… but because they’ve gotten to know me, and it was the end of the day, and I drop my money reliably on impulse vegetable purchases. All in all, I saved at least ten dollars on my weekly grocery run, maybe more.
I’m not bragging- honestly! In fact, what I originally wanted to talk about was how lovely it felt to be a part of that community, and how exciting it was to get to talk with dairy farmers about agriculture policy on Sunday mornings.
But then, about an hour ago, my roommate woke up from her nap craving cookies. I was in an odd mood and craving a walk, so I walked to the 7-11 down the block in my PJs to drop money- about $10, again- on junk food and soda, food with no nutrient and soul value. Right in front of the 7-11 was a beautiful elderly Turkish woman, homeless, with her cart in front of her. I said hi as I passed, and she didn’t ask me for money- a rarity in the DC area, where there’s a homeless person on every block, and many of them heckle you every time you enter a store. Humbled by the irony of the purchases I was about to make, I turned around and gave the woman the $10 bill from my wallet and told her that I hoped she’d find it useful. She followed me into the store and made some purchases- I tried to give her some space.
On my way out, we chatted for a few minutes. Her name is the same as my sister’s, and she told me that every day, she feels God’s blessings. Every day. Goodness, I just finished the bulk of my thesis, and let me tell you, despite the luxury that it is to have that stress, I did not feel blessed most days during the process. I continued up the hill, berating myself for giving away money; I’m a graduate student on a budget, and while I’ve been told to budget for fun stuff like midnight 7-11 runs, I’ve never been taught to give away money, and I’ve always had the slight feeling that by giving away money I’m hindering change in the system that produces such extreme poverty.
Then I remembered the generosity of the farmers this morning, the beauty of their gifts and company, and the savings to my own budget, and was suddenly grateful for having passed on the gift, even though those who gave it did not expect any such thing.
This is how communities grow.