Not counting on this

I love my job, and not just because every address, every door, is an adventure.

I love it too because the journey, the space between addresses, every step along the way is an opportunity for a memorable moment.

Beautiful Tamai holding beautiful leaf. Sorry it’s cut off, but I had to get all of her smile in.

(I know life’s a journey, yadayada — but getting out of your comfort zone — and this job is all about that — really helps push the envelope. Really helps you see the world, the regular, quotidian world, with new eyes.

Which happened after enumerating a house in a part of town I never even knew existed. I’m walking down the driveway and this fallen leaf, this maple leaf, is just glowing on the black tarmac.

It said: “Pick me up!”

It also said: “Fall.”

I picked it up. It was beautiful. Otherworldly, like fall colors. Yet real, like the inexorability of nature. COVID means nothing to her. COVID can cancel New Orleans Jazz Fest and the Summer Olympics. But it will not stop the Technicolor show of fall…

I am walking down the driveway, toward my car, looking up with a smile from the wonder of my leaf, when I see her across the road. A woman with a brush of silver hair, standing outside her door, looking at me.

I often get looked at by neighbors. Curiosity, but almost always verging on suspicion. I get it.

But something about this woman…

Something about her, really, I can’t say, cause I couldn’t clearly see her face, something about her made me cross the street. Made me go right up to her.

And then I could see her face, her smiling eyes, her flat, wide cheeks, her beautiful, delighted smile.

Look at this, I said,’ holding out the leaf. Isn’t this beautiful?

Immediately I realized she spoke no English. She was talking to me in her native language,  blithely, like I understood it. But, though I mentally flailed for even one word to hang onto, all I could understand was the tone of the flow,  the expression on her face, the attitude of her hands.

It was enough. All said “Welcome.”  All said, “We get it.”  All said, “We are here now, connected by the universal language: the smile.”.

Spanning time.

Expanding in time.

What else is there?

When she said she was from Togo, I started jumping up and down with excitement. I’ve been all over the world, and never met anyone from Togo until I became a census-taker in upstate New York. I introduced myself as Jill, and i think she said her name was Tamai (no idea how to spell that).

Don’t know why it would make a difference.

I helped her bring her emptied trash cans back from the curb.

She asked me if I wanted to come in.

I said I had to work.

I gave her the leaf.  She gave me another swoonable smile.

She watched as I drove away. I took in one last image of her,  holding the leaf in her hand. And my heart actually beat hard with the beauty of it all.

 And gratitude for remembering that.

#Covid-19 #census2020, #love #beauty #fall2020