10.30.2006

A Little Bit of Magic

Answering an impulse to clean, I grab a broom and sweep the bathroom floor. Down on my hands and knees, I peer into the two-inch gap beneath the cabinet that holds my sink, anticipating mounds of dust and lint. Instead I see a decorative hair comb trying to slide under the washing machine. I navigate the broom to grab it and draw it towards me.

Seeing the comb takes me back to a barefoot day on the beach fifteen years ago. My wedding. The somewhat sparkly accessory draws the hair off my face. A time in my life before so much experience. A time before so much history. A time when I believed in the love I was pledging.

That love is long gone.

I look at the comb in my hand: it’s time to get this out of my house. I feel that the wedding ornament hiding in my bathroom has kept me stuck, bonding me to my past. I don’t normally believe in such things, but I don’t question the thought. And the message goes deeper: don’t simply put the comb in the trash. I don’t know why I know this, but I do, and as my intuition is often demure, when it speaks up, I try to listen. The disposal of the comb requires something ceremonial.

I picture burying it on the beach, but that instantly feels wrong as if I’m offering it a permanent spot in my life, as if it will live in my own backyard, in my soil, and be a part of my future. I want it gone, not living with me, so instead I imagine leaving it out in the open, someplace that someone will pick it up, desire it, give it a different life.

Later in the day, just before leaving home, I remember the comb and shove it in my purse. I drop my son at his friend’s and head towards a movie theater to attend a documentary film. But I’m early. Really early. I stop at one of those warehouse-type shoe stores. Look around. Try on boots. Sightsee. And suddenly I realize this is where I must leave the comb. An accessory amongst accessories. I’m abandoning it amidst its peers.

I pull the comb from my purse, wander down one aisle, looking left, looking right. I glance about like a shoplifter. And then I see the spot, an inviting gap between two welcoming shoes on display. I place the comb carefully and quickly. It feels right, and I scurry off with a smile.

At the theater, I buy my ticket and move into line. A passing man catches my eye. Slightly shaggy hair. Walking alone. And then he’s gone. The line starts walking towards the theater. I stop in the bathroom, delaying my entry to take a seat.

Eventually I enter the theater and walk to my preferred row, close but not too close. I duck in to the right. And there he is. The man from outside, two seats away from me. As the lights go down, he leans over and asks why I came to this film. I only choke out a brief response about my general interest in documentary film rather than my more specific answer, for the first trailer is playing and the crowd is already silent.

The powerful film transports me deep into thought. I no longer think of the man beside me. If he suddenly spoke to me, I wouldn’t manage small talk. Films do that to me, take me so far outside myself that I need some time for reentry. That’s why I often go to movies alone. I need post-film silent time to process and return to the living.

But when the lights come up, my neighbor starts talking to me. I say that I wanted to see the film after reading an article explaining how the story of Jonestown and the Peoples Temple was far more complex than the media lead us to believe in the late 70s when the mass suicide/murder occurred. We leave the theater in conversation and end up having a drink. We talk about seeing another film together. We exchange numbers.

A spontaneous encounter like this hasn’t happened to me in a long time. Driving home, I remember that I recently had an image of meeting a man at a movie theater. And I realize that it’s odd that I didn’t think of that all evening.

I’m not saying my movie encounter means anything. I’m not claiming this man and I will ever see each other again. But our drink felt like the capping moment on my comb disposal ceremony. For that alone, I am grateful and willing to believe in a little magic.

12 comments:

acumamakiki said...

This story is all about magic Deezee, I love it. I'm so very glad you came wandering to my blog and that we were able to meet. I'm just sorry I don't live close by.
It's great that you were spontaneous enough to go have a drink with the shaggy man, even if you don't speak to or see him again, you will remember this day as a good one.

Anonymous said...

On my way home from the store tonight I thought (suddenly, for I've never done it before) maybe I should go to the movies tomorrow afternoon by myself.

Then I was home and read this post.

I think I will. Thanks.

New York Red said...

Great story, a bit sad, but hopeful and strong...I love it..I believe in little magic in life and how we make it ourselves...

jen said...

it is totally magical..you followed your heart and your spirit and came right back at you....and nothing says a bit of fall intrigue like a movie mystery man...i am loving this post.

V-Grrrl said...

I believe in the power of private rituals to help us celebrate happy moments and deal with disappointments.

I think letting go of the comb and the memories opened your mind to different possibilities in your life and made it easy to accept the invitation of a stranger.

Spill The Beans said...

I've believed in magic for years now. It's something I keep secret, for the most part, but that belief has never wavered. And I think it's good to succumb to it occasionally, as well.

ecm said...

This was beautiful and magical...almost like a movie.

Neil said...

I can hear thousands of combs being left somewhere tonight. I think there was magic involved.

fringes said...

What v-grrrl said. I've read this post a few times and have been trying to put my thoughts together. I love the hopefulness it contains.

dweezila said...

This is a powerful story, and as a writer I recognize it; how the tiniest threads of intution can direct our day. The comb, the way you know exactly where to leave it, the man, the movie, the drink. We don't know how these things turn out or what they mean, but we're listening. You're listening. It's gorgeous.

Alison said...

It sounds magic to me.

Nance said...

Hi! I'm here fulfilling a pledge I made to celebrate the 4th anniversary of my blog: to read an archival post from blogs I enjoy. This was a great post to read. I loved the tone of it and the quiet, moody suspense.